Admittedly, this didn’t exactly come as unexpected news, given the extent of the spending cuts. But the figures still make for pretty grim reading: according to the ONS, employment levels as a whole are down by 69,000, the biggest decline since summer 2009, which brought the grand total up to 29m. The number of redundancies rose to 157,000 (up by 14,000 on the previous three months), while the number of people unemployed for more than a year jumped by 15,000 to 836,000.
The only relief was provided by the claimant count (the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance) which fell by 4,100. It’s the third drop in a row, and almost twice as large as the month before. But it’s not necessarily entirely positive: the ONS figures showed that the number of part-time workers now makes up 27% of the workforce, having increased by 26,000; so some of those ex-claimants have clearly only managed to get part-time work. And wage growth actually fell, from 2.2% in the previous quarter, to 2.1% now – way below inflation, which now stands at 3.7%. So most us will find our wages don’t stretch quite as far as they once might have.
But while these figures show that the impact of the public spending cuts (as well as tax hikes and bad retail conditions) on private businesses has begun to be felt, this data doesn’t include the latest figures on job losses in the public sector itself – so we still don’t know the full extent of the damage. But with businesses becoming more cautious as the recovery looks increasingly tenuous, one thing’s abundantly clear: the worst is yet to come. Cheering, isn’t it?