Friday, 10 June 2011

Job Fears Reinforced

By Michael Burke

SEB recently wrote that the improvement in Britain’s employment is unlikely to last. This is because jobs growth is a lagging indicator and reflects the previous upturn in activity. As the recovery has ground to a halt in the last 6 months this will in time lead to renewed weakness in jobs.

These fears are reinforced by the latest monthly jobs survey from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and accountants KPMG. The May data show a further deceleration in jobs growth. The survey has a good track record, with turning-points in the employment data coinciding with turning-points in the survey. The value of the survey is that it is more timely- while REC/KPMG have produced May data, the next employment release from the Office for National Statistics due on June 15 will be for the period to April.

The survey for both full- and part-time jobs is shown in the chart below. Any reading above 50 indicates an expansion in jobs and anything below 50 indicates a contraction. The May reading extends the trend of decelerating employment growth, heading back towards a stagnant jobs market or even worse.


Figure 1


11 06 10 Unemployment


The Tory-led collation has previously attempted to claim the prior improvement in jobs as supporting its contention that the economy will grow even while it cuts public spending and public sector jobs. It is even implied that private jobs have grown because of government cuts. This was wholly dishonest, as all mainstream economics accepts that changes in employment follow changes in activity. Therefore the previous growth of employment reflects the earlier recovery, not this government’s actions. Government spokespersons have since become more circumspect.

Government policy has led to economic stagnation. Both economic theory and the most recent evidence suggest that jobs losses will follow.

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