LETTER:Measuring unemployment: the figures and the `fiddle' theories

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From Mr Ken Coates, MEP

Sir: Phillip Oppenheim denies that there is a jobs crisis confronting young people. If fewer people aged 16-21 are employed, according to Mr Oppenheim, "this is almost entirely due to the massive increase in the proportion of young people in higher education". The truth is quite different.

John Hughes of Ruskin College estimates that between 1990 and 1994 there was a fall of 745,000 in the full-time employment of young people under 21, a fall of well over half (56 per cent). There was also a fall of 330,000 for those aged 21-24. Thus, in just four years, there is a total decline in full-time employment of more than one million people aged under 25.

For Great Britain between 1990 and 1994, the officially recorded (claimant) unemployment of young people aged under 20 rose by 65 per cent, to 206,195; the recorded unemployment of young people aged 20-24 rose by 62 per cent, to 511,589. The increase in recorded unemployment for all those under 25 was 277,298 between April 1990 and April 1994.

The unemployment figures were already "massive" in 1990 when there were 440,000 claimant unemployed under 25; they were socially disastrous in 1994 when they had reached 717,784 for the under-25s. If Mr Oppenheim doesn't want to respect other people's figures, at least he should pay attention to his own.

Yours sincerely,


MEP for Nottinghamshire North & Chesterfield (Lab)

Mansfield, Nottinghamshire

The writer is Rapporteur of the European Parliament's temporary committee on employment.