The number of families with no working adults has fallen by the sharpest proportion since records began, official figures revealed today. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that 15.9% of households had no working adults, down from 17.3% a year earlier.
The figures are no doubt welcome news for George Osborne, but do come with some caveats. It looks as though the Government's plans to tackle long-term unemployment are not progressing so well, with the number of families where no adult has ever worked stubbornly refusing to budge at 1.5%. Many are also worried that the recovery is creating the 'wrong sort of jobs' – with lack of security, low hours and low pay.
'The headline numbers somewhat gloss over some subtleties of the recovery. Many of the new roles being created are part-time or temporary positions,' said Andrew Hunter, co-founder of jobs site Adzuna.
'Self-employment has also sharply increased. Lone parents with dependent children are still the least likely to be employed – more could still certainly be done to help single parents break back into the workforce.'
The stats also show that the south is massively outperforming the north. Just 12.3% of families in the south-east have no working adults, compared to 21.2% in the north-east, the worst hit region, and north-west on 19.3%. If the Government wants to win back support in the north then it's probably going to take more than vague promises about a new high-speed rail line in 15 years time.