May 2009 UK unemployment

Sunday, June 21st, 2009 - Employment, job search, recruitment, redundancy, sunday thoughts, unemployment

May 2009 UK unemployment

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I have left it a few days before commenting on the May 2009 UK unemployment data, and the reason for that is simple: I want to read what the media commentators had to say about it.

Amusingly, many of the papers handed over their columns to various politicians, who either:

  • Thought it was a positive sign, and that all would be well next year after a few more rough patches
  • Thought it was just the end of the beginning at best, and that there were huge legacy issues still to resolve

Now, if I gave you a red and a blue flag, and asked you to stick a pin in which result came from which party, even though we are 12months away from an election, I bet even the average 4year old like my niece could guess which one is which!

Here’s the simple reality:

There were still more people on the dole cue’s in May 2009 over April 2009,

it just that rather than the predicted figures there weren’t quite as many of them.

Highest unemployment rate in 12years

In the cold light of day, and not subjected to growing election fever, that still doesn’t make good reading – there are more people unemployed, personally, never sounds good – and certainly not positive.

Further, with the figure at 2.261 million in the three months to April, it is according to the Office for National Statistics the highest level since November 1996. The number of vacancies fell from 659,000 in May 2008 to 424,000 in May this year – a 35.6% drop, meaning that every job is presently subjected to at least six applicants.

There is not much light in further data digging. Unemployment in the 18-to-24 age range was 16.6%, the highest it has been since 1993, the TUC said.

Regional unemployment

The regional data showed:

Region Apr-09 May-09 Increase/Decrease Percent Increase Regional rate
North East of England 109,000 103,000 -6,000 -5.50% 8.30%
North West 262,000 281,000 19,000 7.25% 8.20%
Yorkshire/Humber 186,000 211,000 25,000 13.44% 8.00%
East Midlands 147,000 173,000 26,000 17.69% 7.40%
West Midlands 210,000 249,000 39,000 18.57% 9.30%
East 165,000 180,000 15,000 9.09% 6.00%
London 308,000 329,000 21,000 6.82% 8.10%
South East 212,000 244,000 32,000 15.09% 5.50%
South West 139,000 156,000 17,000 12.23% 5.80%
Wales 109,000 109,000 0 0.00% 7.60%
Scotland 135,000 176,000 41,000 30.37% 6.60%
Northern Ireland 46,000 49,000 3,000 6.52% 6.20%
TOTAL 2,028,000 2,260,000 232,000

So, what’s happening in the regions? Column 5, the percentage increase is the one I want to concentrate on, which shows clear regional differences – the rate of acceleration of unemployment; and Column6, the regional rate.

The national prediction has always been for around a 10% unemployment rate, or 3million people. Yet looking at column5, there are clear regional groups which are quickly accelerating: but the East Midlands, West Midlands, London and particularly Scotland accelerated quickly in their loss of jobs in the last quarter. However, while Scotland and the Southeast come from relatively low bases previously, the effect on manufacturing in the West Midlands looks irretrievable. Wales and the Northeast have done well this quarter, but I think form regional Welsh data that both of these regions were subject in the past decades to high levels of regional subsidy attracting inward investment, and I think better data analysis will show that some of those companies simply slipped away to Eastern Europe last year, leaving good SME business in both regions to make the best of the excellent skills now coming to the market – makes me wonder about the long term benefits of subsidies?

So what is it a sign of? Just that more people are unemployed – read no more into it than that. Once the dole cue’s stop growing, that will be a good sign of an economic recovery starting. But at the moment, its no more than a twitch in a comatose patient.

Good Luck!

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