We have created a thousand jobs every day this government have been in office.
*David Cameron, Prime Minister’s Questions, February 25 *
The prime minister, David Cameron, recently repeated a claim, first made by his chancellor George Osborne in his 2014 Autumn Statement, that the government has created 1,000 jobs for every day it has been in office.
Precise, up-to-date calculations cannot easily be made to verify this statement, given that information about workforce jobs is produced on a quarterly basis and the most recent publicly available figures from the Office of National Statistics relate to September 2014. However, subtracting the total number of UK workforce jobs in June 2010 (the month after the 2010 general election) from the total in September 2014 gives a figure of 2,076,000.
If divided by the number of days between the formation of the coalition government on May 12 2010 and the end of September 2014 (1,603 days in all), produces a figure of 1,295. On that basis, the prime minister and chancellor’s claim can be considered broadly accurate, or even an underestimate.
But the increase in jobs does not imply an equal increase in the number of people in work, because workers with more than one job will appear more than once in the workforce jobs data. Labour Force Survey data for the same time period as above indicates that total employment increased by 1.47m, which represents an average daily growth of approximately 917 people in employment per day – somewhat less than the figure for jobs growth.
Self-employed and part-time work
It should be recognised that much of the growth in jobs has been fuelled by self-employment. Approximately one-third of the additional jobs created since June 2010 are self-employed jobs. The recent collapse of City Link has demonstrated the vulnerability of self-employed people working as contractors.
In addition, there is evidence that many of those who have become self-employed have done so only because they could not find an adequate position with an employer. Similarly, part-time employment has increased, but so too has the proportion of part-time workers who are unable to find full-time employment (although the proportion has recently started to decline).
In the public sector, where it is most meaningful to talk about the government directly creating (or eliminating) jobs, employment fell substantially from 5,695,000 in June 2010 to 5,308,000 by September 2014. These figures exclude the effect of reclassifications resulting in particular from the temporary shift of certain major financial institutions, such as Lloyds Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland, into the public sector after the start of the financial crisis.
It is also worth reflecting on regional differences. In London, workforce jobs increased by three-quarters of a million over the period, an average daily growth rate of approximately 455. In the North-East, by contrast, workforce jobs fell by 23,000 – over 14 jobs per day lost – and there have also been losses in Northern Ireland. Clearly not all regions of the UK are sharing in the “jobs boom”.
Cameron’s statement that the coalition has created 1,000 jobs every day it has been in office is broadly accurate. But this does not necessarily mean that 1,000 more people have been added to the employed work force each day. There is also a wide disparity between areas of the country.
On the assumption that the figures are accurate, the analysis, evaluation and conclusions drawn are appropriate and tenable. I would add that a significant proportion of the new jobs have been part-time or zero hours contract jobs, whereas the majority of those jobs lost during the same period have been full-time and most of those who lost them had reasonably assumed that they were secure – especially in the case of public sector employment. In addition, new data released by the Office of National Statistics shows an increase in the numbers and proportion of UK workers in zero-hours contracts.
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