There are currently 749,000 vacancies in the UK according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
To date, of people aged 16 to 64:
- 1,640,308 are considered unemployed, which is defined by the ONS as ‘people without a job who have been actively seeking work within the last 4 weeks and are available to start work within the next 2 weeks‘.
- 2,150,523 are considered to be economically inactive, but want to work. Being economically inactive is defined as ‘people not in employment who have not been seeking work within the last 4 weeks and/or are unable to start work within the next 2 weeks‘.
- 34,791 are considered to be economically inactive, and discouraged workers. Discouraged workers are defined as a ‘subgroup of the economically inactive population who said their main reason for not seeking work was because they believed there were no jobs available‘.
These statistics are based on self-reporting, so they are susceptible to the bias of each individual’s understanding of their situation. But let’s say it is safe to assume that on the whole, these answers are accurate (after all, they are used to shape national policy). Therefore provided they were given the appropriate opportunity, there are up to 3,825,622
people looking for work who are currently unemployed.
As a measure of unemployment of people aged 16 – 64 it would mean an unemployment rate of 9.3%, as opposed to the headline figure of 4.9%. Additionally, it means there are 5 people looking for work for each job available.
This is before part-time workers who would like more hours are included.
- 1,143,000 of those working part time only do so because they could not find full time employment.
- Based on a 2014 study by the ONS, on average, those how wanted more hours wanted 11.3 more hours per week.
This gives a total figure of 4,968,622 , and a rate of 12.1% for underemployment (people who would like to work more hours) in the economy.
An economy where nearly 5 million people cannot find adequate employment is not a recovering economy, despite what the current government might believe. High unemployment holds down wages and makes it easier for businesses to mistreat workers as they do not have to compete with each other to attract new employees.
Rather than being workshy or conniving benefit scroungers, many people may genuinely find it difficult to find acceptable employment. Increasing welfare bills are a symptom of the poor state of the labour market, not part of the cause. So-called ‘wealth creators’ are not creating enough jobs, and treating other humans like spare parts to be left on a shelf is not a humane or acceptable state of things. On-going mass unemployment is a direct result of the failure of governments to ensure there are enough employment opportunities for all people. It results in a permanent reduction in the potential quality of life not just for those individuals, but also the nation as a whole as we lose out on the skills, ideas, goods and services these people could have brought to the economy.
If you’d like to look up this data for yourself on the ONS website, here are the references:
Economically inactive, wants work: LFM2 ¦ Economically inactive, discouraged worker: LFL8 ¦ Unemployment level: LF2I ¦ Total population aged 16 – 64: LF2O ¦ Vacancies (excluding agriculture, forestry and fishery): AP2Y, ¦ Economically active, part time, couldn’t find full time work: YCCX