Socialist Worker

There aren't enough jobs to employ the unemployed

Issue No. 2295

The number of jobs in the public sector has gone down by almost half a million since the Coalition took office

The number of jobs in the public sector has gone down by almost half a million since the Coalition took office


The Tories’ answer to unemployment is as simple as it is stupid—“get on your bike” and look for work, they say.

Or there’s the modern version from Tory work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith. He recently told jobless people in Merthyr Tydfil to get “on the bus” to “go to the jobs”.

But while there are 2.67 million unemployed people in Britain, there are only enough job vacancies for around one in six of them.

This ratio hides major regional variations. In Lewisham, south east London, there are 35 people claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) to every available vacancy.

And the global recession has made this situation worse.

In December 2007, at the onset of the crisis, there were 5,700 JSA claimants in Lewisham chasing 660 vacancies.

By December 2011 the number of claimants in the borough had almost doubled and the number of vacancies halved.

Even these figures underestimate the problem by not counting the “underemployed”—people making do with part-time work because they cannot find full-time work.

The TUC released a study last month that factored in these missing elements.

It suggests the real unemployment rate is 6.3 million, or 19.6 percent—the highest level since April 1993.


Public sector jobs massacre

625 public sector jobs lost every day

56,000 jobs cut in NHS

71,000 jobs lost in education


Unemployment by region

Region Total unemployed Unemployment rate
North East 138,000 10.8%
North West 317,000 9.3%
Yorks & Humber 261,000 9.8%
East Midlands 187,000 8.2%
West Midlands 241,000 9.1%
East 208,000 6.8%
London 433,000 10.2%
South East 287,000 6.5%
South West 169,000 6.3%
Wales 134,000 9.1%
Scotland 234,000 8.7%
Northern Ireland 50,000 6.5%


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