Economists have been somewhat bemused at the number of jobs increasing in a recession. Whilst the move away from full-time jobs to part-time has been touted as one explanation, we may have discovered another significant reason for this now. MP Ian Lavery has managed to get confirmation from the government that 158,000 people on training schemes are counted as “employed”. Even worse those who are forced to work for nothing in order to receive their benefits are also excluded from the unemployment figures.
The Office for National Statistics confirmed that in the three months up to August 158,000 people on average were engaged in government sponsored training and employment schemes. An ONS spokesperson admitted that they did not ask whether these people were paid or not. Cabinet Office Minister Nick Hurd published a statement from the ONS confirming that any people “whose activity comprises any form of work, work experience or work-related training are classified as in employment.”
In answer to MP Tom Blenkinson the ONS confirmed that these people were classified as in employment “regardless of whether the individual is paid or not.”
Margaret Thatcher famously changed the way the unemployment figures were calculated somewhere in the region of 20 times. The coalition government has some way to go to catch her up. However, if these people were counted as what they really are, unemployed. then it would make it even more difficult for the government to paint a picture of a ‘recovery’.
Whilst they might put together a fatuous case that training was ‘work’, it is impossible to paint up working for your benefit as a ‘job’. They are simply fiddling the figures to disguise the real situation.