photo shows line of anonymous unemployed people

Employment: What’s the Truth About Unemployment?

Researchers at Sheffield Hallam University have published a startling report undermining the government’s claim that the UK economy is operating at close to full employment. The report – a pdf of which is available here – argues that the real level of unemployment in today’s Britain is around 2.3 million, compared to “just under 800,000 on the claimant count and 1.5 million on the wider ILO [International Labour Organization] measure of unemployment preferred by the government.” It analyses data and shows that there is plenty of what it calls “hidden unemployment” as a result of the large numbers of people currently out of work on incapacity-related benefits, which “exceed the numbers on unemployment benefits by more than three-to-one.” Within the overall figure of 2.3 million there are huge regional differences, with clusters of districts around the north-east, east Lancashire, Merseyside, Birmingham, Glasgow and the Welsh Valleys with severe hidden unemployment, amounting to 60% in the Welsh Valleys for example. It says: “This concentration of hidden unemployment in the places with the weakest local labour markets is consistent with the view that where decent jobs are hardest to find, many men and women give up looking for work and therefore fail to meet the ILO unemployment criteria.” We are a country in 2017 with pockets of vast wealth – and many more pockets of real poverty.