Sunday, 15 March 2009
A life on the dole
This coming week unemployment is set to burst through the 2 million barrier, and a report in today’s Observer newspaper; says that mass unemployment is forcing the government to draft in staff to reinforce job centres, with civil servants diverted from child maintenance and disability claims. Over recent years the DWP has followed a policy of down sizing its operations at job centres with the introduction of new technology and time saving strategies or schemes calculated strictly at saving money and has lead to staffing reductions at job centres and the complete closer of some. I was told by my adviser at Canning Town that they have in fact taken on new staff a few weeks ago, to deal with the increase in unemployment and a larger workload placed on its workers.
Shocking figures have revealed that on average there are 10 jobseekers for every vacancy advertised in the UK. In one area of the south-east, 60 workers are available for each job.
The TUC claim that in some parts of the country, the task facing jobseekers is critical. The Isle of Wight has more unemployed workers per new job than any other area. In total, there are 3,152 people chasing 52 advertised vacancies, as its main industries of tourism and manufacturing suffer from the credit crunch.
"These shocking figures blow out of the water the government's claim that there are plenty of jobs available for people who are prepared to look," said Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary.
Gordon Brown and James Purnell, the work and pensions secretary, keep stressing that large numbers of job opportunities are available, but research shows that they are heavily outnumbered by unemployed workers. When Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire held a recruitment day recently to hire 150 staff, it attracted a crowd of up to 3,000 people.
Central London emerges as an unemployment blackspot, where the number of vacancies is far exceeded by unemployed workers. There are just 4,275 vacancies across the 12 inner London boroughs, against almost 71,000 unemployment benefit claimants. Hackney, in east London, has 37 claimants for every new job. The claimant count, a key measure of unemployment, is expected to show a sharp rise for February of up to 90,000, when official figures are announced on Wednesday, which would make it the worst month since the early-1990s downturn. On the broader measure favoured by the government, total unemployment is almost certain to hit 2 million, or 6.5% of the workforce.
Since job losses usually lag behind an economic downturn by several months, the impact of the chaos unleashed last autumn after Lehman Brothers collapsed is unlikely to be felt until later in the spring. "There must be a good chance that we get a 100,000-plus monthly rise in unemployment soon," said Michael Saunders, chief UK economist at Citigroup.
As Chancellor Alistair Darling draws up plans for his budget next month, Barber called for more help from the Treasury for the unemployed, including an increase in jobseekers' allowance to at least £75 a week, from the current level of £60.50.
As job losses mount across the economy, analysts are becoming increasingly worried that mass unemployment will exacerbate the downturn in consumer spending and the housing crash, and create a vicious circle.
"Looking ahead, the pressing concern now is whether the rise in unemployment will become self-sustaining by creating a negative feedback loop between demand and unemployment. While we are perhaps not in this territory yet, this is a clear medium-term risk for the economy," said Jonathan Loynes, of consultancy Capital Economics.
- ► 2008 (112)
- ▼ March 2009 (14)
- ► 2010 (227)
- ► 2011 (200)
- ► 2013 (120)
- ► 2014 (76)
- ► 2015 (21)