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Miliband’s jobs ‘blunder’: who’s right?

1 July 2014

9:00 PM

1 July 2014

9:00 PM

There’s been a bit of a fuss over the claim in Lord Adonis’s growth report—repeated in a draft of Ed Miliband’s localism speech—that four-fifths of the private-sector jobs growth in the UK since 2010 has happened in London. The Prime Minister tweeted:

And NIESR’s Jonathan Portes (who has form taking issue with how numbers on ‘new’ jobs numbers are used) said:

The figure in Adonis’s report was taken from the Centre for Cities’ City Outlook 2014 – it says that ‘since 2010, 79 per cent of the private-sector job growth has occurred in London’. But as the Centre for Cities explained in Janaury, it’s based on the Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES). The Centre for Cities stand by its calculations. Its CEO, Alexandra Jones, says that the BRES data ‘gives a more accurate picture of where jobs are located’ than other measures.

But the Conservatives took issue with the claim. They said that three-quarters of private sector job growth since 2010 has happened outside London. (With far from perfect spreadsheet skills, I made it 74 per cent.)

There are issues with their source too. Full Fact say that using figures from the Labour Force Survey, as the Conservatives did, is problematic: the LFS may misrepresent the number of employees in the private sector. And besides, the change in the number of net jobs isn’t the same as new jobs.

So there are different measures for jobs growth and they say different things. Everyone can claim to be vaguely right, by their own measure, and other can call them precisely wrong. But there’s another issue – what happens when Ed Miliband unveils a policy. Whether it’s owls or a (possibly) dodgy stat that turns heads, Labour’s plans for power just don’t seem capable of commanding attention.

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