Monday, 24 January 2011

Bankers party and the young suffer...




Unemployment has now reached 2.5 million, according to the Office for National Statistics, and of course that’s if you trust these figures and the way they are collated which I don’t. But it comes as no surprise then that the tallying of the figures presented in there present form indicates the hardest hit are young people aged between 16 to 24 years of age, among whom nearly one in five are without work, about one million in all.

The fact that joblessness rose by 49,000 during this span exposes the Conservative/Liberal-Democrat government’s claim that job cuts in the public sector will be “offset” by growth in the private sector.

The figure do not include the impact of the government’s austerity measures unveiled at the end of October, which will wipe out some 350,000 jobs across the public sector over the next four years.

More than a third of unemployed people have been out of work for more than a year, up by 15,000 on the previous quarter. This compares with one-fifth at the start of the recession. The numbers working part-time because they cannot find full-time work rose by 26,000 to 1.15 million—the highest level since 1992.

Young people are finding it increasingly difficult to find work. There was a particularly sharp rise in the number of 16 and 17 year-olds registered as unemployed, from 177,000 to 204,000.

One factor in the rise in youth joblessness is that the number of older people working past the accustomed age for retirement is rising. Those aged 65 and over still working grew by 106,000 over the past year. They are doing so largely because they cannot afford to retire.

Youth unemployment is set to rise even more, with a record number of graduates—320,000—expected this year.

In addition, the government is pressing ahead with plans to abolish the Education Maintenance Allowance. Its scrapping played a significant role in the student protests of the last months, as tens of thousands of working class youth took to the streets in opposition. The grant—which allows a £30 per week maximum stipend—is currently paid to 16-18-year-olds living in households earning under £30,800. The overwhelming majority of teenagers receive EMA. A survey by the University and College Union found that 70 percent of students would leave education if it was withdrawn.

The unemployment figures were released as the investment bank Goldman Sachs announced it was paying out £9.6 billion in pay and bonuses. While the announcement led to a Greek chorus of complaints in the media, the government is currently negotiating with UK banks to find a compromise that will help them hold back and hide the pay and bonuses of their top earners.

The government had pledged to make bankers pay more “transparent”, but is now backtracking in the face of hostility from the financial sector. The UK’s banks are opposed to measures that will force them to reveal the salaries and bonuses of their highest paid employees. According to the Financial Times, RBS and Barclays, “which have big investment banking divisions, fear that disclosure of star traders’ pay could lead to a ‘witch-hunt’ and that the vilification of individuals in the media and could drive some out of Britain.”

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