As your graph sets out, the two measures of unemployment are seldom far from each other, but show significant short-term differences. According to chart 3.17 in the Budget "red book", the benefit claimant count is at present about 100,000 lower than the Labour Force Survey measure, and close to 2.5 million.
The main reason against the benefit claimant count is that it gives governments an incentive to massage the unemployment figures downwards by denying benefit to more claimants. Mr Clarke's chosen measure is more objective. Just at present, it also has the merit, from his point of view, of suggesting that the economy is still some way from over-heating and thus less in need of a further rise in interest rates.
Yours etc, CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON London, N6
19 December The writer is author of `Measuring the Economy'.Reuse content