Letter: Where have all the workers gone?

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The Independent Online
Sir: Colin Brown and Diane Coyle (report, 7 August) tell us about the Bank of England's warning on interest rates. However, the quarterly report also had something interesting to say about employment.

The Tories claim to have achieved a jobs miracle, thanks to deregulation. They say that unemployment has come down faster than in previous business cycles.

Then along come the Bank to burst their bubble. Yesterday's report said: "Almost the entire net performance in the 1990s compared to the 1980s was unaccounted for ... by the rise in inactivity." In plain English, unemployment has been falling not because more jobs have been created but because more people have left the workforce altogether.

As Bob Dylan might ask: "Where have all the workers gone?" Much of the drop can only be explained by people being driven off the benefit register and therefore off the records altogether. A great Tory disappearing trick rather than an economic miracle!

The Labour Party is committed to help people out of benefit into jobs - including 250,000 young people - rather than drive people into the statistical twilight zone.

JOHN PRESCOTT MP

Deputy Leader of the Opposition

House of Commons

London SW1

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