Coffee House

Jobs figures suggest Cameron and Osborne have survived their 364 economists moment

22 January 2014

11:15 AM

22 January 2014

11:15 AM

What is Ed Miliband going to ask David Cameron about at Prime Minister’s Questions today now that the latest employment figures show the biggest quarterly increase since records began, and the biggest quarterly fall in unemployment since 1997? Actually, there is quite a lot that he can talk about that means he can entirely avoid the subject – Nicky Morgan’s warning to the Tories about ‘hate’, Aidan Burley, the row between Number 10 and Home Office about stop-and-search and Syria – but the Prime Minister will make jolly well sure that he shoehorns it into any question that’s asked of him, even if it’s a backbench one about the welfare of horses in Cumbria.

Here are the figures. Unemployment fell by 167,000 between September and November to 2.32m (7.1%). The employment rate for September to November 2013 was 72.1%, up 0.5 percentage points from June to August 2013. Average earnings increased by 0.9% in the year to November, no change from the previous month.

[Alt-Text]


At 7.1%, the unemployment rate is now just above the Bank of England’s 7% threshold for raising interest rates.

It goes without saying that the Prime Minister can use this to remind everyone about his long-term economic plan. Coming after the IMF’s improved growth forecast for the UK economy yesterday, these jobs figures will serve as another piece of evidence for David Cameron and George Osborne that they’ve moved on from their own ‘364 economists’ moment when the IMF’s Olivier Blanchard accused the Chancellor of ‘playing with fire’ with his current austerity plan. So it means that when Cameron does shoehorn the jobs stats into his answers, he can also point out that Ed Balls, who made much of the Blanchard comments at the time, called for the Chancellor to change course and was then proved wrong.


More Spectator for less. Stay informed leading up to the EU referendum and in the aftermath. Subscribe and receive 15 issues delivered for just £15, with full web and app access. Join us.



Show comments
  • wobble

    Should the unemployment number’s be increased by 364 ?

  • Tom Tom
    • HJ777

      He makes some reasonable points.

      However, there are other factors which are helping produce sound growth. Extreme wage moderation, for example (which is what put Germany in such a strong economic position over the last decade). When, as I am sure will be the case before long, productivity starts to pick up, then there will be substance underpinning sustained growth which will go some way to balancing out his concerns.

      He is wrong when he writes:

      “The Bank of England has said it will consider increasing interest rates from the current record low of 0.5 percent when the unemployment rate falls below 7 percent.”

      The BoE (or rather Mark Carney) said no such thing. He said he would not even consider increasing interest rates until unemployment falls below 7%, not that he would consider it when it does. This is an important difference – if inflation (CPI) looks to be under control, there is no need (according to the MPC remit) to even consider raising rates.

  • Tom Tom

    Isabel, you will surely oblige me by elucidating how these figures are calculated and whom they count. I find statistics fascinating especially when the full details of how they are collected is laid out. The Obama Administration has had some unfortunate aspects to its BOLS data and I am sure you can assure us that figures in the UK ennumerate ALL those OUT OF WORK and LOOKING FOR EMPLOYMENT whether in receipt of benefits or not, you can can’t you ?

    • Reconstruct

      I’ll help you. The unemployment rate is calculated according to International Labour Organization standards, specifically to avoid politicians fiddling with the methodology. The key fiddle with the US data is the participation rate – people simply dropping out of the data altogether. Here the inactivity rate is actually falling, so the reverse of the US fiddle. Finally, there is the clincher: if the labour market data is being somehow fiddled to produce a better picture than reality, it would show up in National Insurance Contributions – since people ‘not really employed, just off the data’ wouldn’t be paying NIC. And that’s the added significance of the fact that NIC is now growing pretty solidly too. In short, there’s every reason to believe that the labour market really is firming strongly, and it’s not just a statistical illusion.

      Doubtless, however, the Labour party will attempt to convince themselves that it’s all a mirage. . . . before abandoning that position, as they’ve had to abandon every previous economic critique they’re made since 2010.

      They’d do better to be honest with themselves, and try and craft a genuine economic policy. I’m not holding my breath, though.

      • HookesLaw

        Is TomTom Ed Balls in disguise – he is always pretending he knows something about neconomics annd gets more miserable as the economic news brightens.

  • Eyesee

    Don’t think Labour want to debate the use of hate in elections and policy making, it is their entire ideology! Class hate is the driving force of the Unions, sorry Labour Party and is often tied in with the other aspect they work hard to maintain, race hate. This attempt to divide the British people is designed to create an opportunity, a crisis, which allows ‘benign’ leaders to step in and take ‘necessary measures’ to introduce a Marxist state.

  • Mr Creosote

    Horses in Cumbria ? That was quite witty for you, Isabel!

    What would make more interesting (and perhaps depressing) reading is a graph that simultaneously tracks population growth, much of which is migration-based.

    • HookesLaw

      Well in the event Miliband hid behind Syrian refugees, which is a bit of a cheek (to put it mildly) since he opportunistically voted against doing something to stop Assad. No one can take any notice of British opinion in the middle east following his crass activities.

      • Tom Tom

        Assad ? Whatever is Assad doing in Bahrain ?

  • telemachus

    Cost of living
    Ed must keep banging on
    Ordinary folk feel worse off despite all this media crowing

    • RavenRandom

      Do they? Wages will be rising faster than inflation in the next 12 months. Not only that, better to have a job, than fewer in jobs with faster rises.
      Actually that’s a bit weak for you… reality dawning is it? Balls is a busted flush face.

      • telemachus

        Year on year most folk are poorer

      • James Jones

        “Wages will be rising faster than inflation in the next 12 months”

        For most Britons that has not happened for over 30 years. There is no chance of it happening now for anyone outside the top 15% or so.

    • HJ777

      I shouldn’t worry about that.

      It is pretty clear that every Labour politician is under a three-line whip to include the phrase “cost-of-living crisis” in every public pronouncement.

      I wonder what sort of penalties are being threatened for anyone who doesn’t toe the line on this?

      • telemachus

        That is because ordinary folk are suffering

        • HJ777

          I know that I’m suffering from hearing “cost-of-living crisis” repeated ad nauseaum by Labour automatons, so perhaps you’re right and ‘ordinary folk’ feel the same.

          • telemachus

            Ordinary folk
            That is not you or I with computers and time to chew the cud
            Ordinary folk know what their meagre funds will buy

            • HJ777

              I find it very difficult to believe that you have any insight into what ‘ordinary folk’ think or do, as you are clearly so detached from reality.

              • telemachus

                Longsight and Moss Side are in my back yard
                My family mostly live in the old wool towns of West Yorkshire and most have needed help these last year or two
                *
                Do not tell me about ordinary folk

                • HJ777

                  If you remember, it was you trying to tell me about ‘ordinary folk’, not the other way around.

                  My background is about as ordinary as they come. The difference between us is that I am not a fool and you are.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  I thought this was your backyard? You really are full of s**t. A propagandist pure and simple. I hope wavering voters are taking note of how Labour operate.

                • HJ777

                  It is possible that he is a freelance Labour-supporting fool rather than a party apparatchik, is it not?

                  Would the Labour party really put up someone so demonstrably inadequate to fight their corner? On the other hand, they did elect Ed Miliband as leader…

                • Colonel Mustard

                  I have a couple of theories. One is that he is entirely a creation of the Spectator, a sort of in-joke to rile up the nutjobs. This would explain why he has never been booted off the site despite some most disgusting comments and his tedious ‘tagging technique’.

                  The second is that he is some doyen of the Westminster bubble or media, like Ken Loach. They know who he is and wouldn’t dare to ban him.

                  Whatever he is he is thick beyond belief and totally incapable of debating in any kind of adult manner.

                • HJ777

                  There is another possibility.

                  He thinks that Ed Balls is charismatic and it is pretty hard to believe that anyone other than Ed Balls believes that…

                • Colonel Mustard

                  If it is Ed Balls it must be Ed Balls trying very hard not to reveal his level of education and literacy.

                • HJ777

                  I’m not so sure about that.

                  Have you ever read the text of Ed Balls’s ‘Bloomberg Speech’ of which he is so proud? It’s pure nonsense. For example, in it he claims that the 1981 budget caused a recession whereas, as the economic record clearly shows, the economy grew steadily thereafter.

                • telemachus

                  Just a reasonable caring ordinary voter
                  *
                  But one that read De Principatibus in primary school

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Highly unlikely.

                • telemachus

                  Where I was brought up folks were not rich but strove to acquire knowledge from early years
                  Remember Attlee had given us the wherewithal to have the health that would allow this unlike former years

            • Redrose82

              Well I’m of the ordinary folk, a pensioner of 20 years standing and I can tell you that in those 20 years I have never been as well treated as under this government.

              • HookesLaw

                As I quote above this is what the Rowntree Trust report found.

              • telemachus

                Bully for you
                Tell that to the struggling mothers in Nechells

                • Colonel Mustard

                  What are the fathers doing then? It was your party that undermined the decency of marriage, betrayed the respectable working class and created the single mother benefit culture in Britain.

            • Colonel Mustard

              You do more than ‘chew the cud’ with your computer and time, you peddle BS for the herd too.

        • Chris lancashire

          The “cost of living crisis” is about to go the way of “triple dip recession” and “cuts too far, too fast”. Wonder what Labour will come up with then.

          • telemachus

            As we heard at question time there are thirteen million UK residents classified as being in poverty
            Folks can see easily enough that they cannot afford shoes for the kids
            Folks can see all the empty shops in the high streets
            The media folk can crow all they like but Joe Public knows he is worse off than under Labour

            • Chris lancashire

              And Joe Public isn’t as stupid as you think. Record growth, record numbers employed, inflation under control. Coupled with the government’s tax cuts for the lower paid and a soon to come good increase in the minimum wage all point to everyone feeling better off. No wonder Balls has shut up.

              • telemachus

                Those statistics pull no punch in Tower Hamlets with the women who cannot afford shoes for their children
                Or meat for dinner

                • Colonel Mustard

                  As a successful ‘caring’ businessman able to afford long distance holidays at Christmas and travelling far and wide to preach the gospel of St Ed how many pairs of shoes have you donated for those deprived and shoeless children that might or might not really exist?

            • HookesLaw

              Usual rubbish from you. Even the BBC do not seem to take this seriously.
              Poverty – ‘surviving on less than 60% of the national median (middle) income’
              A pretty high threshold if you ask me – but lets take it, because – ‘the overall poverty rate in the UK expressed as a proportion of the
              population was 21% – the second lowest since reliable official
              statistics began to be collected in the mid-1990s’
              And…
              ‘the number of pensioners in poverty was at a 30-year low’
              ‘child poverty was at its lowest level for 25 years’

          • HookesLaw

            I read somewhere that the drop of in production in 2008 was the worst since before WW1.
            Under those circumstances its absurd to suggest that there was an unavoidable strain on living standards.
            What Balls and Labour do not say is that workers have chosen to chose wage restraint as opposed to losing jobs. Labours policy (if it can be granted that term) seems to be one of demanding wage inflation.

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            An invasion from Martians angry at Coalition policies I suspect. At least that would have greater credibility than the Eds ludicrous economic narrative (there are no policies).

        • Colonel Mustard

          Ordinary folk reading these threads are suffering from your serial sloganeering and tripe.

    • Swiss Bob

      Tell us your hero Ed Balls’s plan?

      Is it to start packing his bags as I predicted?

      • telemachus

        Wait and see
        The manifesto will be ready for the GE

        • Colonel Mustard

          Full of trickery and cunning plans no doubt. Not a manifesto to benefit the country as a whole but a manifesto to discomfort and wrong foot Labour’s perceived enemies, real or imagined.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          Packed from cover to cover with lies.

          • telemachus

            Whatever
            It will win the election for us

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Yes it is vital that Labour, the party of lies, lying and liars, keeps peddling its garbage. Hopefully more people will recognise what a loathsome group of filthy liars the Labour Party actually is.

      • telemachus

        Chuz Son
        Go down to Nechells and talk to the folk

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          Happily. I will tell them that Labour keeps them where they are and is the party of lies, lying and filthy, unprincipled liars.

          • telemachus

            They will be too busy scrimping a few crusts to put on the tea table to listen to the likes of you

            • Nicholas chuzzlewit

              Make your mind up you hypocritical, sanctimonious idiot. One minute you tell me to talk to them and then you say they will not have time. So which is it idiot#1? Typical approach for the Labour Party, the party of lies, lying and liars.

              • telemachus

                You understand
                Try to talk to the folk
                But you will find them stretched to provide a crust
                Therefore you will have observed
                And understand
                *
                But deny

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  Insane.

    • James Jones

      “Ordinary folk feel worse off ”

      That is because they are worse off.

      The top earners have been taking all of the growth in GDP for themselves for 30 years. Any recovery is now only going to the benefit the top 15% or so.

      Our media is either so innumerate or so biased that they don’t care. I suppose it is a combination of both.

  • RavenRandom

    Unemployment falling rapidly, growth at 2.4% and inflation at 2.0%. This leads to deficits falling and real wages rising. The government need to be trumpeting these figures. We cannot let the economy wrecking Labour party back in.
    No doubt Balls will be somehow rubbishing the UK later today. What does a shadow Chancellor who is always wrong have to do to get fired anyway?

    • Reconstruct

      These were not the only good numbers today: there were also surprisingly good budget numbers too. I think there are three takeaways. First, the budget is finally catching some tailwinds from the upturn in labour markets, with both income taxes and national insurance contributions now growing firmly. We’re probably in for a year of upgrades for deficit-reduction targets. Second, the labour market data showed unemployment falling fastest among the long-term unemployed. Third – and I particularly like this – the Yorkshire jobs boom continues, with the fastest jobs growth outside London over the last quarter (and the fastest of any region over the last two years). Quite why the Conservatives aren’t spending all their spare time in Yorkshire, I don’t know.

      • HJ777

        Yes, it is pleasing that growth isn’t just happening in the south of England.

        On the budget deficit, optimism may be warranted, but also caution. The budget deficit for this fiscal year to date is only 5% (cash terms) down on the equivalent period of the previous fiscal year, although the December figure was 15% down on the previous December. However, monthly figures are volatile, so we will have to wait to see whether this is a continuing and welcome trend. If growth (and therefore tax revenues) continues to accelerate, it could be, but everybody has been wrong about growth forecasts in the last few years so we should not get carried away (yet).

        • Makroon

          The borrowing estimates (PNSBex) are probably one of the ONS’s least reliable statistic – in recent years, they have been (heavily) revised down.
          2011/2012 £126B (est) £117.6B (outcome)
          2012/2013 £120.9B (est) £114.9B (outcome)
          2013/2014 £111.2B (est) ????

          • HookesLaw

            For a few of months now the estimates have been below 100.

      • MirthaTidville

        They are utterly detested in Yorkshire and always will be, thats why they dont spend all their spare time there…No point

        • HookesLaw

          Take a look at the electoral map and you will see a great swathe of blue around metropolitan Leeds Bradord etc.
          South Yorkshire is Labour. North Yorkshire is Tory. West Yorkshire is about 60-40 Labour and Humberside is about 60-40 Tory.

          • Colonel Mustard

            The regional divide and legendary northern hatred of Tories is one of Labour’s most cherished myths. Lindsay used to peddle it regularly but I’m surprised Tidville is.

            • MirthaTidville

              Not peddling it Colonel…its not a myth..Listen I used to pound the doors for the Tories up here and I can tell you what an uphill slog it was..I really do speak from experience. The red rosette and the donkey analagy are real I`m very sorry to say

          • Reconstruct

            Historically Huddersfield was always a three-way marginal. But Barry Sheerman’s a pretty solid bloke for Labour, so I guess he at least is invincible. When he retires though. . .

        • Makroon

          Nope. Tom Tom is not a typical Yorkshire voter you know.

        • Reconstruct

          I guess you live in Wales? I live in Yorkshire and would be grateful if you didn’t instruct me about Gods Own Country.

          • MirthaTidville

            You make some assumptions without knowing anything about it. I live in Yorkshire, right in the middle, not the posh North bit and I stand by every word I say.You can count the Tories in South Yorkshire!!…so don`t instruct me about my county either..

            • Reconstruct

              I offer sincere and abject apologies. I had assumed from your moniker that you were from S Wales. You can imagine. . .

              • MirthaTidville

                Oh accepted and thank you, I said what I did with regret really though..Too many towns here with red rosettes and donkeys…Re the moniker easy mistake to make..Best wishes

                • Reconstruct

                  Nevertheless, historically Yorkshire hasn’t necessarily been Labour territory (even parts around Sheffield), and there is a quite unnervingly strong jobs story here. Question is: do the Conservatives even know it’s happening, or are they so hunkered down in their Southeast bunker they haven’t noticed. Crazy, really, for them to ignore what looks like a genuine and perhaps eventually very exciting story up here. And they wonder why they can’t connect with people!

                  In short, they have the grounds for taking the fight to the Labour party in one of their alleged strongholds. And yet, they don’t. . . Why? What’s the matter with them?

                • MirthaTidville

                  Having been part of a local Tory set up, a few years ago, they were riddled with in fighting and never seemed to want to take Labour on..Now thats just one area but did make me wonder..Shame really lots to fight over I agree

                • Reconstruct

                  Got to say, the local Tories where I live are also an absolute unmitigated disgrace. Venal, too.

        • HJ777

          If you look at the general election results for Yorkshire/Humberside, you will see that the Tories achieved almost a third of all the votes – just 2% less than Labour – and were the second most popular party

          So it would seem that many people in Yorkshire simply don’t agree with you and, I imagine, would object to your attempt to portray your personal opinion as speaking for people from Yorkshire as a whole.

      • Count Dooku

        Pretty amazing figures yes. What’s also great is that unemployment is falling so quickly while labour force partiipation is rising quickly as well. In the US they have such low unemployment because their participation rate has plummeted. It’s a major issue there.

        I was shocked also that the debt to GDP ratio fell this quarter, even though there was no surplus!
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25840293

        • HJ777

          I noticed that that too.

          Of course, you don’t actually need a surplus to reduce debt as a percentage of GDP – you just need faster GDP growth (in percentage terms) than the rise in debt (also in percentage terms).

          • Count Dooku

            Thanks for pointing out the out the obvious.

            • HJ777

              Well, you did seem surprised by it and most people seem not to realise this.

              The point is that if the books can be balanced at a time of growth (as Brown should have done), then you don’t even need to pay off previously accumulated debt to greatly improve the debt ratio.

              • Count Dooku

                I am surprised because the deficit is still at ~ 6% and we have falling inflation, even though real growth is picking up.
                I’d love to see the nominal GDP figures the ONS used when working this out or at least the GDP deflator. It would be surprising if the deflator was rising while CPI is falling.

                • HJ777

                  Yes, but this was just a one month phenomenon, not an annual one and as we know both government spending and tax revenues vary considerably throughout the year. It won’t be the case for the annual figures.

                • Count Dooku

                  So explain this. How can the debt/GDP fall by 0.9% for one month when there was no surplus for that month and the economy didn’t grow by a greater amount? The only explaination is the deflator.

                  And I know the variability of PSNBR. I just can’t square this particular circle.

                • HJ777

                  I must admit that I haven’t looked at the figures in any detail – I was just making a general point.

                • HookesLaw

                  The latter part of the year is when a lot of revenues come in.

                • HJ777

                  As someone who is self-employed I am painfully aware that my tax bill has to be paid at the end of this month.

                  And, of course, the end of the HMRC tax year is in early April at which time a lot of companies will be paying up.

        • Tom Tom

          and Obama has done wonders with BOLS data

    • sussex boy

      The removal of balls is called Castration I believe. High time the Labour party submitted to this particular operation!

    • HookesLaw

      ‘We cannot let the economy wrecking Labour party back in.’ – say that a bit louder please for the hard of hearing.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …so you socialist Camerluvvies should avoid splitting the UKIP vote, then.

    • HJ777

      I’m not really so worried about what Balls has to do to get fired.

      If he’s not fired, there is no way Labour will win the next election (it probably won’t anyway). If he is fired, then he won’t get anywhere near the Treasury, even in the unlikely event of Labour winning the next election.

      On the Balls front, at least, it’s a win-win situation.

    • James Jones

      “real wages rising”

      Real wages are only rising for the well connected. Most people in Britain have seen their real wages falling for 30 years and they continue to fall.

      This is recovery for the 15%.

      • HJ777

        “Most people in Britain have seen their real wages falling for 30 years…”

        Have they? Can you point towards any independent statistical confirmation of this assertion. It would certainly be interesting to see.

        • Gary Wintle

          Because most jobs are low-wage, falling unemployment increases the UK’s debt considerably. Abolishing tax credits, child benefit, and the massive drain that is the state pension would lead to people being paid genuine wages and slash the debt.

          • HJ777

            “Because most jobs are low-wage, falling unemployment increases the UK’s debt considerably.”

            How? By what mechanism?

      • RavenRandom

        15%? Pick that number out of the air? I get you don’t want to believe, but wilful denial is a different matter.

    • Gary Wintle

      How many of these jobs are not subsidized by the taxpayer? The UK’s debt increases with more jobs because they are low-wage or part-time; jobs which are of no benefit to the economy and are subsidized by the government.

      Given that much of the UK economy is propped up by gerrymandering, corporate welfare scams like Tax Credits and Help to Buy, credit card debt, and other such unproductive BS, I find it hard to be optimistic.

      • RavenRandom

        I suspect you could find out your answers if you really want to know. I agree with many of your points, I’ve never found tax credits a good idea (we take away your money, you fill in a form, and then we give it back to you… huh?). I think though the numbers of new jobs are just so overwhelming that a genuine recovery is well underway.

Close
Can't find your Web ID? Click here