Thousands of unemployed young people across the North East could be stripped of benefits under tough plans in the Government’s Queen’s Speech.
David Cameron insisted the crackdown was designed to end youth unemployment, as he set out his plans in the House of Commons.
But Labour MPs said the plans effectively meant young people would be forced to work for as little as less than £2 an hour – payment far below the minimum wage.
The North East has the highest youth unemployment rate in England.
Office figures show 21.4 per cent of young people aged 18 to 24 are unemployed.
The figures cover people who are “economically active”, which means they are in a job or looking for work. Full-time students are not included.
This is a higher proportion than in any other part of England. It’s also higher than Scotland or Wales, and roughly equal to the Northern Ireland figure of 21.8 per cent.
By contrast, the unemployment rate for people aged 18 to 24 in the south east is 11.4 per cent. And in the West Midlands, it is 16.1 per cent.
Official figures also show that 4,000 people in the North East aged 18 to 24 have been claiming Jobseekers Allowance for six months or longer.
But under Government plans, anyone aged 21 or under will lose the right to this benefit – and be put on a new “youth allowance” instead.
They’ll get the same amount of money as before, up to £57.90 a week, but if they are unemployed for six months then they will be given compulsory community work such as making meals for the elderly or working for local charities – and they’ll lose the right to claim benefits if they refuse.
If they will have to work 30 hours a week as expected, that would be a payment of £1.93 for each hour worked, well below the minimum wage of £5.13 for people age 18 to 20 and £6.50 for those older.
The Government says it plans to prepare young people for work and will create 200,000 new apprenticeships in the North East.
And Conservatives point out that the number of people aged 18 to 24 in the North East actually in work has risen by 13,000 over the past year.
David Cameron told the House of Commons: “One of the most important things we can do is give young people the chance of an apprenticeship and the chance of work.
“What we have done is expand apprenticeships and uncapped university places, so that there is no cap on aspiration in our country.
“We now want to go further by saying that every young person should be either earning or learning.
“Leaving school, signing on, getting unemployment benefit, getting housing benefit and opting for a life out of work—that is no choice at all, and that is why we will legislate accordingly.”
And Conservative MP Guy Opperman, MP for Hexham, said:
“This Bill will provide assistance to young people to earn and learn, and give them the skills which they need to have a long term future in employment.
“We need to address the skills gap and using apprenticeships will really make a difference to do that.”
Labour Gateshead MP Ian Mearns said:
“If young people are expected to work in order to get benefits then they should be entitled to the minimum wage.
“To tell them to work for £2 an hour is ridiculous. We have legislation which says there is a minimum wage in this country and that should be the minimum level people can expect.”
Conservatives will face a battle over plans to stop people aged 18 to 21 claiming housing benefit – with Labour MPs and other critics warning it will put young people who are forced to leave home because of abuse in danger.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 30 May 2015
Unemployment can cause significant psychological damage to an individuals personality, according to a new study.
Behavioural scientists from the University of Stirling found that unemployment causes a persons well-being to worsen, possibly leading to “large changes” in their “core personality”.
While personality normally remains relatively constant over time, negative experiences – such as unemployment – reduces a person’s levels of “conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness”.
Lead researcher Dr Christopher Boyce, from the University of Stirling’s Behavioural Science Centre, said:
“The results challenge the idea that our personalities are ‘fixed’ and show that the effects of external factors such as unemployment can have large impacts on our basic personality.”
Behavioural scientists carried out two separate tests in a four-year study. All participants were in work when the study began.
A second test was carried out after four years; when participants were either still in a job, had been unemployed for one to four years, or had re-entered employment after a period of unemployment.
Researchers say the study suggests unemployed people are often “unfairly stigmatised” due to “unavoidable personality change”, leading to potential difficulties in helping them back into work and causing a negative impact on the UK labour market.
> I don’t suppose it occurred to them that it might be the other way round – that a personality change might be the result of being unfairly stigmatised ?
Frankly, having to deal with the DWP while listening to the propaganda spewing from IDS and his mates in the media could be enough to warp anyone’s personality.
Those who had moved back into work after losing their jobs experienced only “limited change”, the study says.
Experts say policy making has a “key role” in preventing personality changes and urged politicians to create more policies designed to support unemployed people into work.
> Yeah, but… I can see we’re heading towards the any work is better than no work argument. Not necesserily it isn’t.
I’ve had two bad bouts of depression in my life. Both of them were the reult of the crap jobs I had at the time.
Dr Boyce said:
“A high national unemployment rate may have significant implications across society.
“For example, high unemployment may hinder the development of desirable social and economic behaviours, such as participation in social activities and better health behaviours.
> the development of desirable social and economic behaviours – what are we, lab rats ? I’ll develope whatever social and economic behaviours I choose, thank you very much.
“Policies to reduce unemployment are therefore vital not only to protect the economy but also to enable positive personality growth in individuals.”
> But since policies to reduce unemployment amount to forcing people into any old low-wage job going, it’s difficult to see how they’re going to enable positive personality growth in individuals or aid development of desirable social and economic behaviours.
Being in a job you hate, while earning little more than you got on the dole… what’s the point ?
Source – Welfare Weekly, 25 Feb 2015
The North East has retained its position as the worst region for jobs in the latest batch unemployment figures – despite showing a reduction in the numbers of those seeking work.
Statistics released on Wednesday revealed a regional unemployment rate of 9.1% with 118,000 people looking for work in the region.
The figures are for the three months ending in October and show a fall of 1% compared to the same period last year.
It follows previous figures which showed a rise for three successive quarters.
The figures show unemployment down across the country but the North East is still top of the table.
However, bosses at organisations welcomed the improvement in figures.
Neil Carberry, director for employment and skill at the Confederation of British Industry, said:
“As we come to the end of the year, it’s good news that unemployment continues to fall, as jobs are being created. It’s good to see even more people working full-time.
“We are starting to see the first signs of real pay growth picking up, which will have given households an encouraging boost in the run up to Christmas.”
> Yes, but since “full-time” work equals 16 hours a week, there are a lot of jobs that no-one can afford to take if they have no other source of income.
Unions accepted the rate in the region was down but said zero hour contracts disguised the impact.
Ruth Berkley, of Unison’s North East office, said:
“While our unemployment figure in the region has come down to 9.1%, it is disappointing that we continue to have the highest level of unemployment in the country, including for youth unemployment.
“There has been a significant increase in zero hours contracts in the region, with 52,000 now working on such contracts.
“In the last 12 months we have also seen an increase of 11 per-cent in female unemployment, partly as a result of public sector job losses.
“George Osborne in his Autumn Statement stated that there is yet more to come in terms of public sector jobs being cut.
“Despite what Ian Duncan Smith claims that there are jobs for all those who want full time employment, the reality for this region is that we have the highest level of under-unemployed of any region.”
Unusually, the employment rate is higher among women than among men in the North East – in most places in the UK it is the other way round.
They remain close though – the rate for men is 8.9% while among women the figure is 9.3%
A spokesman for the Office of National Statistics said:
“The unemployment rate for people aged 16 and over for the UK was 6 per-cent for the period August to October 2014.
“The region with the highest rate in Great Britain was the North East at 9.1 per-cent followed by Wales and Yorkshire and The Humber, both at 7.1 per-cent and the West Midlands at 6.8 per-cent.
“The regions with the lowest rate were the South East at 4.6 per-cent followed by the South West, at 4.8% and the East of England, at 5 per-cent.”
Not surprisingly the region topped the list of people claiming jobseekers allowance.
The Office for National Statistics said:
“The seasonally adjusted Claimant Count rate for the UK was 2.7 per-cent in November 2014, down 0.1 percentage points from October 2014, with the level down 26,900.
“The region with the highest rate in Great Britain was the North East, at 4.5 per-cent, down 0.1 percentage point from the previous month.”
> As usual, no mention of sanctions and their role in “reducing” unemployment levels.
The unemployment rate in the North East was revealed today as 9.4%.
The figure for July to September is the same as the figure for the previous quarter.
However the actual numbers for those unemployed is down from 120,000 to 117,000. Although that represents a 1.3% fall in numbers, this hasn’t affected the overall percentage figure as more people have entered the job market.
> As usual, no mention of how many of that 1.3% are people who have been sanctioned or have just signed off and vanished.
The Office for National Statistics report revealed mixed news for men and women workers.
In the 16 to 64 age group, the unemployment rate for men has dropped since the last quarter – April to June – from 9.6% to 8.7%.
Over the same period, it has gone up for women from 9.2% to 10%.
But Employment Minister Esther McVey said the amount of women in work in the North East since last year has actually gone up.
“The North East had the second largest annual rise in the female employment rate of all UK regions – up 1.9 percentage points to 64.6%, so as the economy continues to grow, more and more people are having their lives transformed by moving into work.”
> Right – so the official figures say female unemployment rose, but McVile says really things are improving. That makes perfect sense…
They revealed that average weekly pay has fallen from £456 to £422 since the last quarter – about a 7.5% drop. Year-on-year the figure has fallen from £438, a 3.7% fall.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 12 Nov 2014
Unemployment in the North East has increased by 5,000 in the quarter to May, official figures have revealed.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), a total of 129,000 people were unemployed in the region between March and May.
The region’s unemployment rate was 9.6% and saw a rise of 4.0% during the period.
Nationwide, the new Cabinet was given good news with the latest figures showing record employment and another huge fall in the numbers out of work.
> Except in the North East…
More than 30 million people are in work, an increase of almost one million over the past year, the best figures since records began in 1971. Unemployment fell by 121,000 in the quarter to May, to 2.12 million, the lowest since the end of 2009.
> Except in the North East…
The number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance fell by 36,300 in June to 1.04 million, the 20th consecutive monthly fall and the lowest total since 2008.
Economic inactivity, covering those looking after a relative, on long-term sick leave, or no longer looking for work, was 67,000 lower at just under 8.8 million, the lowest figure for more than a decade.
Just over 78% of men and 68% of women are in work, giving an employment rate of 73.1%.
Other figures from the ONS showed that more than 4.5 million people were self-employed, the highest since records began in 1992, after an increase of 404,000 over the past year.
Average earnings increased by 0.3% in the year to May, 0.5% down on the previous month, giving average weekly pay of £478. The 0.3% rise was the lowest since 2009, while excluding bonuses, the figure was 0.7%, the lowest since records began in 2001.
Long-term and youth unemployment have both continued to fall. The number of jobless 16-to-24-year-olds fell by 64,000 over the latest quarter to 817,000, including 283,000 full-time students looking for part-time work.
There was also a drop in the number of people in a part-time job wanting full-time work – down by 61,000 to 1.3 million.
Job vacancies were up by 30,000 to 648,000, an increase of more than 100,000 on a year ago, but 48,000 fewer than the pre-recession peak at the start of 2008.
Employment Minister Esther McVey said: “An important milestone has been reached in our country’s recovery. With one of the highest employment rates ever, it’s clear that the Government’s long-term economic plan to help businesses create jobs and get people working again is the right one.
> Except in the North East…
“With an employment rate which has never been higher, record women in work and more young people in jobs, the resilience of the country during the downturn is being rewarded. We know there is more to do, and the best way to do so is to go on delivering a plan that’s creating growth and jobs.”
> Except in the North East…
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Today’s figures show more people have the security of a job than ever before. Full employment is a key aim of our long-term economic plan.”
> Except in the North East…
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “More people up and down the country are finding jobs as we build a stronger, more balanced economy. And today we have the highest employment rate on record, which shows that this Government has created the right conditions for growth.
> Except in the North East…
“We have made the tough decisions to reduce our deficit – lifting around three million people out of tax so they keep more of what they earn, healing the scar of the north-south divide through the Regional Growth Fund, and giving young people a helping hand by boosting apprenticeships.”
> Except in the North East…
Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: “The fall in unemployment is welcome. However, it is time to drill down into the details of what types of jobs are being created and where.
“This is because large swathes of the country and a great number of workers have seen little or no benefit from this recovery.
“Much of the growth is due to demographic factors, and the increase in population means GDP per head is still well below 2007 levels. This is the root cause of average earnings being down 13.8% in real terms since then.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 16 July 2014
Fears that the region was “out of sight and out of mind” for the Government have been voiced after the latest jobless figures revealed the only place in the UK where unemployment was going up was the North East.
The overall national rate has dropped to 6.6% in the three months to April, the lowest since January 2009, causing Chancellor George Osborne to hail the news as an important step towards the goal of full employment, while Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said: “Britain is bouncing back.”
Yet the figures they were celebrating, published by the Office for National Statistics, revealed unemployment in the North East had risen 6,000 to 131,000 from February to April, putting the jobless rate here at 9.8%, again the highest in the UK and by some distance.
Chi Onwurah, Labour’s Newcastle Central MP, said: “They are talking like it’s mission complete but the fact is the North East is still seeing unemployment on the rise.
“It shows that the North East is out of sight and out of mind of this Coalition Government.”
The next lowest figures in the UK are Yorkshire and Humber with 8.2% and the West Midlands with 7.5%. Even Wales, which has suffered economically like the North East because of the collapse of traditional industries like mining, boasts an unemployment rate of 6.6%, the same as the national average.
And while the Government highlighted the news that the number of people in employment in the region had gone up 15,000 from February to April to 1,206,000, there was bad news on the wages front too.
The ONS figures showed the average salary of those in work in the North East has fallen 7.3% year-on-year with women particularly hardest hit with a 10.7% drop. Meanwhile the current CPI rate of inflation is 1.8%.
Mark Stephenson of the North East Chamber of Commerce concentrated on the rise in employment rates in the region and the fall in the claimant count.
He said: “It’s great to see North East employment estimates rising at the fastest rate in the UK for the second consecutive month. Hopefully we are starting to see a trend develop that will see our region make ground on other parts of the UK that experienced these rises earlier in the economic recovery.”
However he added: “The long term measures for employment and the claimant count are positive signs, albeit the total number of unemployed in the North East remains high – especially at the younger end of the labour market. The challenge isn’t abating and casts a shadow over the positive figures we see elsewhere.”
> Bloody hell – where does he buy his rose-tinted glasses ?
Source – Newcastle Journal, 12 June 2014
> And still it increases !
Unemployment in the North East has increased by 6,000 in the quarter to April. According to the Office for National Statistics, 131,000 people were unemployed in the region between February and April. The unemployment rate was 9.8% and saw a rise of 4.8% during the period.
Nationally, employment rose by a record 345,000 in the three months to April.
The number of people in work stood at 30.54 million, after a rise which was the highest since records began in 1971.
Source – ITV Tyne-Tees, 11 June 2014
It is very hard to work out what is going on in the UK labour market because the quality of the statistics is basically junk – garbage in, garbage out describes the lack of quality of the data well. I really am not exaggerating.
Bad Labour Market Data Part 1 is that every other major country, including the euro area as a whole, is able to produce timely estimates, but not the UK.
Currently unemployment rates for February 2014 are available for Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United States. Data for April 2014 were released by the United States on Friday.
The UK stands out as the only country out of 31 that has no data available for February, March or April 2014.
Pathetic. The national statistic that pretends to be for January is actually an average of December of 2013 and January and February of 2014. The reason for this is simply because the sample sizes are too small to generate accurate monthly estimates.
The Office for National Statistics does in fact publish a single-month estimate of the unemployment rate but that jumps around all over the place.
Let me illustrate the problem. The ONS makes the supporting micro data on individuals available for researchers like me to examine. They take out identifiers so we can’t work out who anyone is. The latest micro data we have is for the three-month period October to December 2013.
In total over these three months 77,657 people between ages 16-98 were interviewed. Of these, 39,761 were employed 6,995 were self-employed and 3,347 were unemployed. The overall unemployment rate, once the data have been weighted and seasonally adjusted is 7.2 per cent, but the relatively small sample size means this estimate is measured with lots of error.
For the technically minded, the 95 per cent confidence interval for the monthly national change is ± 0.3 per cent, which means that any monthly difference smaller than that is not statistically significantly different from zero.
The unemployment rates that were calculated, for example, for East Anglia (5.7 per cent), East Midlands (6.4 per cent), Scotland (7.1 per cent), Wales (7.1 per cent), Northern Ireland (7.4 per cent) as reported by the ONS for October-December were based on ridiculously small samples of 114, 246, 281, 153 and 142 unemployed people respectively. Given the very small sizes the result is that the regional unemployment rates are measured with even more error than the national rate and bounce around like a rubber ball from month to month.
The reason why the ONS struggles to report unemployment rates by month becomes obvious rather quickly.
So the single-month estimate for December of 7.2 per cent that it reports is only based on a sample of 1,198 unemployed people, of whom 632 were male and 452 were under the age of 25.
The number of unemployed people in each of the five regions identified above in December is East Anglia (34), East Midlands (91), Scotland (105), Wales (51), Northern Ireland (55), hence why no single-month disaggregated estimates can be produced.
Bad Labour Market Data Part 2. The government has claimed recently that based on earnings growth of the national statistic called Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) for the whole economy of 1.9 per cent in February 2014 and the fact that the Consumer Price Index has been steadily falling, this means that real wages are set to rise.
If only that was true. But sadly it seems most unlikely given the fact that the Monthly Wages and Salaries Survey (MWSS) on which the estimate is derived has two major sample exclusions whose wages are likely to be growing much more slowly than that, if at all.
First, the ONS has no earnings data, as in none, on the 4.5 million self-employed workers, including large numbers who have set up in business recently. The only earnings data we have available from HMRC are over two years old.
What we do know is that the typical self-employed person earns less than the typical employee and some have zero earnings or even losses; there is every prospect earnings growth of the self-employed will be low.
Second, it also turns out that the MWSS doesn’t sample workers employed in firms with fewer than 20 employees that are the least likely to have strong earnings growth given the difficulty small firms have had in raising capital. The ONS simply makes an adjustment based on the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), which was last available in April 2013 and which itself excludes the lowest earners below the National Insurance threshold.
The ONS computes an average over the previous three years that it imposes on the AWE monthly data. So the ONS just guesses that what happened in the past applies now. But maybe it doesn’t.
The ONS admitted to me that “ideally, we would sample businesses with fewer than 20 employees in the MWSS. However, we do have to pay close attention to minimising the burden on respondents, and we believe that using the adjustment factor from the ASHE strikes an appropriate balance between this and accuracy of the estimates.”
Really? So making it up as you go along is OK? It turns out that this amounts to approximately 20 per cent of all employees, or another 5.2 million workers whose wages we know zippo about.
So the national wage measure excludes 10 million out of the UK’s 30 million workers and my working assumption, for the sake of argument, is that their average pay rise over the past year is zero (it’s a maybe not-so-wild guess that the ONS can’t disprove)!
There is supporting contradictory evidence of strong earnings growth from the latest UK Job Market Report from Adzuna.co.uk, showing that average advertised salaries have slipped £1,800 in the past year down to £31,818 in March 2014, 0.6 per cent lower than in February, and 5.3 per cent lower than in March 2013.
A survey carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses at the end of 2013 reported that “after several years of wage restraint, it is encouraging that the vast majority of small firms are beginning to raise wages again”. They found that 29 per cent of firm owners said that over the next year they would raise wages for all staff, 35 per cent for some staff, 8 per cent for those on the minimum wage. 22 per cent said they would freeze wages, 2 per cent said they would lower them and the rest didn’t answer.
So the AWE is an upward-biased estimate of wage growth. Garbage in, garbage out. The UK’s labour market data are not fit for purpose.
Source – Independent, 08 May 2014
Two North-East towns have the highest youth unemployment in the country, a report claims.
Middlesbrough and Stockton were ranked top of a youth unemployment table prepared by The Work Foundation.
The Lancaster University-based organisation’s report, The Geography Of Youth Unemployment – A Route Map For Change, claims that unemployment rates for 16 to 24-year-olds in the two towns is more than 25 per cent.
In contrast, York was found to have the second lowest youth unemployment in the country at less than 13 per cent.
The study recommends that town and cities reduce their rates by ensuring that local services work together more effectively.
The paper argues that without effective, targeted action from national and local government, businesses, and educators, a generation of young people in these cities will face a bleak future in the labour market.
Commenting on the paper, Lizzie Crowley, head of youth unemployment programmes at The Work Foundation, said: “Urgent action is needed to ensure young people get the right support to either continue in school, further training or with getting a job.”
Commenting on the report, Stockton Council leader Councillor Bob Cook said it was a “nonsense that the youth unemployment rate in Stockton was the highest in the country”.
“That said, we know that the current economic climate has made it tough for young people to get a foothold on the career ladder.
“We are determined to help which is why our children and young people select committee is in the final stages of an in depth scrutiny review looking at how education and business can work together to make sure that learning provision matches local industry need.”
Source – Northern Echo 08 April 2014
Overall unemployment has fallen over the most recent period, but this seems largely down to huge leap in the number of people who are self-employed. A whopping 211,000 more people became self-employed over the last three months – with the total number now hitting 4.46 million.
It is impossible to know whether these newly self-employed people are actually making any money or have simply switched their claim over to Working Tax Credits. Companies running the Work Programme are known to coerce claimants into self-employment, which not only means they are taken off the unemployment figures but also that those running Government welfare-to-work schemes can claim huge job outcome payments.
If just one in six self-employed people are failing to earn any real income then the true…
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