Theresa May will be jumping for joy at the latest job market figures that show the UK unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest in 42 years – but don’t be fooled.
The Tories have become attuned to using unemployment figures to mask other worrying economic trends since the aftermath of the financial crisis. During their tenure the number of unemployed people has fallen dramatically, which would seem impressive to the untrained eye, but is merely icing sugar on top of a toxic cake.
To celebrate the new data we have compiled four stats that show what the Conservatives have really done for the labour market:
Almost a million people now on zero-hour contracts
The number of workers dependent on zero-hour contracts has jumped 13 per cent to a record 905,000 in the past year as insecure work soars. Women and young people are most likely to be on contracts which guarantee no work, the Office for National Statistics said on Thursday. The practice effectively allow employers to avoid their responsibilities towards workers and make it difficult for people to plan for the future.
Average weekly earnings are falling
New figures released today show the first quarterly decline in earnings since 2014. Average weekly earnings fell by 0.2 per cent in the three months to March 2017 compared with a year earlier, when adjusted for inflation and excluding bonuses.
Inflation is up to 2.7 per cent
The slowing wage growth has coincided with inflation rises which could cause one of the biggest pay squeezes in a generation. The UK’s inflation rate rose last month to its highest since September 2013, official figures show. Inflation now stands at 2.7 per cent – up from 2.3 per cent in March – and above the Bank of England’s two per cent target.
— Ian Jones (@ian_a_jones) May 17, 2017
In work poverty is hitting one in eight workers
One in every eight workers in the UK – 3.8 million people – is now living in poverty, according to a report written for the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation by the New Policy Institute. A total of 7.4 million people, including 2.6 million children, are in poverty despite being in a working family. This means that a record high of 55 per cent of people in poverty are in working households.