Dumb, dumber, and employment statistics

Just as with Obama in the US, the Cameron Coalition pretends the new figures are good news, and the MSM fails to critique them.

‘Why is employment growing so rapidly while output is falling? This is the hottest question in UK economics’ says the ever-more superficial London Financial Times this morning.

Predictably, the employment figures were hailed by the Government yesterday. It was part of an ongoing attempt by Camerlot to suggest that many of our economic statistics give an inaccurate picture of Britain’s  position and outlook. I’m inclined to agree: I think our position is far worse than the figures indicate.

More specifically, these figures are confusing for fairly straightforward reasons. First off, apples are being mentioned in the same paragraph as pears, and then compared. This really won’t do: we can’t simply say 236,000 people found new jobs and thus somehow lots of firms are taking on new jobs. What’s happening here is that vacancies (funny how no government ever mentions vacancies) are being filled by those who were previously melded to the sofa.

This is not wild hypothesis: fully 181,000 of the new employed came from that group referred to as the economically inactive – ie, disabled, long-term ill, or bone idle. It doesn’t include many of the retired (being 16-64 by age) but it is 23% of the population – almost a quarter.

It’s no coincidence that this has happened shortly after yet more announcements were forthcoming from the Coalition about cuts in benefit and further investigations of welfare fraud. The idle minority have spotted that the party’s over, and thus taken jobs they would previously have turned down. (Precisely the same thing happened when Iain Duncan-Smith announced his first round of welfare reforms eighteen months ago.)

What’s really required from such statistics is an analysis of what kind of employment has been taken up and how much people are being paid for it. For example, when inflation is fully taken into account, the general picture is that employment is reasonably steady, but real wages are falling and more and more of the workers are part-time.

“People are pricing themselves into work through weakness in pay and the shift to less secure and less well-paid forms of work,” says Michael Saunders, an economist at Citi. Spot-on, chum. You see, the fun thing about this site is I will say some people are idle, and then – in the very next paragraph – suggest that some employers are arseholes. It’s called being Unaligned – but only because Western politics can’t seem to get beyond Left and Right.

The plain truth is that neocon capitalism is working slowly but surely to reduce Western wage costs, while hoping that those pauperised folks will nevertheless be convinced back into the consumption cycle once the dust settles on the debt monetisation…after which credit can be relaxed again, and off we’ll go into another round of madness. While the hard and equally confused Old Left hopes to exploit internally flawed neocon ideas and create violence…after which Socialism can be tried again, and off we’ll go into another round of jobs for the boys.

As the old 1950s Soviet gag had it, “Under capitalism, man exploits man; whereas under Socialism, it’s the other way round”.

We must all remain wary of the Left/Right con. It has nothing to teach us, but everything to gain for its elites. Instead, we must look for new models, more courage, a return to positive creative risk, and better analysis of statistics.



27 thoughts on “Dumb, dumber, and employment statistics

  1. ‘The plain truth is that neocon capitalism is working slowly but surely to reduce Western wage costs’

    By shifting the cost to the taxpayer via tax credits. What a lovely scam!


  2. I do wonder how much of the “old left-right con” has to do with the way voting is undertaken in the UK and US. There were elections in the Netherlands yesterday. Whilst several fringe parties got a drubbing, they still have representative seats in the chamber. That includes Geert Wilder’s PVV who lost 43% of their share of the 2010 vote.

    The full results are:

    Alle partijen













    Seats will be spread representatively to parties with more than 1% of the vote.

    There certainly seems to be more colour in politics here. If only because minority parties get seats (not exceptionally minority parties like the NXD who polled 68 votes nationwide). This is in stark contrast to the UK where it takes lots of impetus just to get three seats in the house. If you tip the balance, you get hundreds – hence mediocrity is a must in the UK.

    Sure, it still plays a part here, but not to the same amount. Next installment? Will Mark Rutte stand up to Brussel?


  3. “working slowly but surely to reduce Western wage costs”: it’s so unfair. We’re all entitled to be paid more than brown and yellow men, aren’t we?


  4. The duality of the Left and Right, Mmmm, what con, making us believe we have a choice when all along we don’t.
    Can’t be having a better analysis of statistics, the truth will out if we do, can’t have that, can we?


  5. You blithely talk of the UK and forget that we in Scotland have a much more representative parliament through our voting system that also spreads seats in a not too dissimilar way to the Netherlands. In fact, despite it being devised so that no one party would ever have an overall majority, the SNP managed to overcome that at the last election, which makes me very much more certain about how the Scots really feel about independence or greater devolution.

    I, as an ex-tyke from Yorkshire, after 30 years in Scotland and now with a much more modern form of government, feel far better represented than I ever did in the county where I was born – a place that is still in the same economic doldrums as a forgotten backwater of England as it was 50 years ago when I was a teenager.

    The Liberals were conned out of any form of proportional representation in England and are paying the consequences. A boring mediocre “alliance” with no idea how to work in a true coalition. Whereas here in Scotland Labour had to learn to live with the Liberals for several years, and now the Conservatives have had to learn to live with Labour against the SNP; all of which leads to much innovation in political thinking.

    So, yes, I agree with you in general; but please don’t take England to mean the UK (Andy Murray was for a long time ‘that dour Scot who kept failing’, but has overnight become another ‘UK hero’ like our Olympians).


  6. To reduce unemployment by 1,000,000 requires the creation of 1000 jobs per day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year for the best part of three years……


  7. It’s 2 sides of the same shite covered coin.

    A simple means to divide people. Without it we’d likely be able to organise ourselves and wind up hanging the politicians, neocon elites etc in the streets.

    But we’ll get there in the end….


  8. The best one is coming soon. The way that American labour stats are massaged (with people who have given up looking for work not being counted) means that somewhere around 2016 they’ll be reporting unemployment of -0.5%.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how they try to explain that one.


  9. Mike Harland

    my apologies. I did not know that Scotland had anything resembling proportional representation. Is this for local elections (councils) the national parliament – does this apply to those Scottish MPs standing for Westminster?

    My comment was more an argument as to why the “big parties” in the UK have become more homogenized. This is because unless they appeal to the majority of voters, they don’t stand a chance. In a system where a party getting 6% of the vote gets 5-7% of the seats means that they can take a few chances with their manifestos.


  10. On a further note: benanke has just promised to print to infinity.

    Bananabux for all!

    poverty for most.

    Welcome to the endgame of the fiat system.


  11. The pity is, the calibre of electoral candidates is so poor, and becoming more rigged to get ‘list’ people (ie party apparatchiks) elected. As far as I understand, every party except SNP struggles to even find anyone who wants to be leader.


  12. There are plenty of ‘brown and yellow men’ in the western world. Have you looked out of the window lately?

    Exploitation is wrong in any form. In a sensible system Workers should be compensated in a measure equal to the value they contribute to the economy. If the worker happens to be working in Germany and has the advantage of decades of engineering development by the company he works for than it would be foolish to condemn the worker. It is not their fault rather their good fortune but the higher wage is justified on economic grounds. The country and it’s people prosper due to their productivity.

    If you push down labour costs through I’ll advised policies the likely outcome is it will destroy demand in the ‘rich’ country. One could infer quite reasonably, this is playing out in the west as the central planners attempted to keep demand propped up by easy credit through a period of corporations off-shoring business technology and competitive advantage for the sake of cheap labour.


  13. Congratulations that I think must rank as the most brainless, inept and ridiculous commet I have read in many a day. It clearly has escaped your attention but the West today is made up of many brown, yellow and all sorts of ‘men’.


  14. ‘We can’t simply say 236,000 people found new jobs and thus somehow lots of firms are taking on new jobs. What’s happening here is that vacancies (funny how no government ever mentions vacancies) are being filled by those who were previously melded to the sofa.’

    Actually, politicians do mention vacancies. The trouble is that, when they talk about 500,000 vacancies or so, they are referring to the vacancies registered with Jobcentre Plus. These are almost always poor quality, low end, unsustainable positions, and are the only options open to benefit claimants as the majority of businesses that do not advertise vacancies with Jobcentre Plus won’t touch them with a barge pole.


  15. Gemma: “This is in stark contrast to the UK where it takes lots of impetus just to get three seats in the house. If you tip the balance, you get hundreds – hence mediocrity is a must in the UK.”

    Gemma, it that’s an endorsement for Proportional Representation, well allow me to stop you right there. We here in Ireland have PR as our electoral system, and it has given us, in no particular order of damage or chronological order: Charles J Haughey, Padraig Flynn, Micheal Lowry, Brian Cowen, Brian Lenihan (senior and junior), Martin Cullen, Mary Harney, Noel Dempley, Jackie Healy Rae, Ray Burke, Liam Lawlor, Enda Kenny, Joan Burton, Eamonn Gilmore, Dick Spring, Micheal Woods, Bertie Ahern, Dermot Ahern…………..the list goes on and on and on.

    There are many more I could mention.

    Do your research on any of the above. To call them mediocre is a gratuitous insult to all that is mediocrity.


  16. No, they’re entitled to be paid as much as us. More if they’re more productive.

    Productivity, therefore profitability, is colourblind.

    So should remuneration.


  17. Good old Ireland got there well before Obummer…………in 2005 we had, for a nation of just under 5million, 159,000 on the dole. Yet officially we had “full unemployment”.


    “Davy Stockbrokers said the Live Register appeared to have stabilised, and now seemed to be at a level which signifies full employment.”

    The above being from our State broadcaster RTE…



  18. Super F

    My point was the mediocrity between the parties, that is to say, in the UK they are less colourful than here in Holland. I am quite sure that Dutch politicians could match Irish ones for being thick headed.

    I would say there was a broader spectrum of political views expressed in the Tweede Kamer than in the Houses of Parliament. Do you see this in the Dail?


  19. Gemma: “I would say there was a broader spectrum of political views expressed in the Tweede Kamer than in the Houses of Parliament. Do you see this in the Dail?”

    Answer: Absolutely not.

    We here in Ireland have had no real opposition since the end of the cold war, when the more lefty militant factions of the Labour party were re-absorbed back into the mainstream fold. At that point, in my opinion, faux political differences faded, and class/alumni traits came to the fore…………..the ruled and the rulers………….

    The only real opposition on policies we’ve had since is Sinn Fein, which, up to recently, were the spokes-party for the IRA. And they’re only recently being rebellious because it’s what they reckon the normal guy/gal on the street wants to hear as they’re desperate to make amends to working class Ireland as it was working class Ireland, of both religions, that bore the brunt of their ethnic/religious aggression back in the day.

    Other than that we have NO opposition.

    Note the positions on the recent referendum on the fiskal pact of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael or Labour. Our Big Three. All advocated a yes.

    Go back to the Lisbon Treaty votes, both of them. Yes, we had two for some reason.

    Again, all three our main three parties. All were for yes.

    Even when they weren’t………..


    We have a Henry Ford type opposition, as in we have any opposition, as long as it’s europhile.


  20. With globalisation we are going to get poorer in the west. simple. Surley we need to think how we adapt to the new reality, rather than bitching about becoming poorer.

    I know it is not nice going backwards, but isnt it better to develop stategies to help with this process.

    i am currently in the ukraine and lots of the new wealth are earning a lot of money, but the average Joe will earn 10-15 pounds a day. how do you compete with that ? These men and women really struggle to get jobs here as well so in this area 70% of the men work in europe doing building/nannying jobs. There they will earn $2000 dollars a month – working 6/7 days a week. The grandparents bring up the kids. life is very tough here, but thats the reality. I am happy seeing life here getting a bit better and worse in the uk. imagine you dont have enough food to feed the family so your only choice is to work abroad and never really see your kids except one a yr or every 2 yrs.

    Wages need to come up in places like ukraine and down in our country. If we could click our fingers and magic equal wages across the globe life would be pretty good for all of us, but getting there is going to be great for ukraine, but shit for the UK.

    i readd lots of the posts on the slog and do get peed off with our situation, HOW can we change ourselves to adapt to the changing future – bitching is not the answer.

    And remeber corruption here is MUCH worse than jeremy hunt / newscorp etc in the uk.

    My wife was a teacher to a local councillor. in the orange revolution he got elected to parliament so moved to kiev. He was very honest and believed in the ukraine and wanted to change stuff. So he wouldnt take bribes and go with the flow of the system (compare to our civil service system). So they just killed him – poison. Thats the reality out here folks.

    just been with a very rich leisure businessman today as well (father in law works for him). he has casinos in eastern erope and is moving into africa. so there is lots of wealth being created here. he has been having a meeting with the klitcho brothers today because his organisation wants to support his election campaign. the brothers and this casino guy are genuine in wanting to make ukraine better. Get rid of all the corruption – if they can. it would be nice to get that in the uk. do you reckon we could get frank bruno to stand for election ?


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