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A life in unemployment statistics

Posted on 22 January 2010 | 9:01am

I was sent this link yesterday to a handy little map the Labour Party has created to show relative levels of unemployment in 1992 ­ ie the last comparable recession ­ and now. Pretty much everywhere in the country, the picture is the same. There are fewer people unemployed now than there were then.

And one of the reasons for that is that we have a Labour government that does not believe the State can do nothing but must stand idly by while markets decide everything; and a Labour government that does not believe that unemployment is a price worth paying. Instead, under Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling’s leadership, this government has acted, and seen off the worst of the damage that could have been done.

I spent a few minutes yesterday testing the map out by clicking around some of the places I know well.

Take the place where I was born for example, Keighley in West Yorkshire. In ‘92 under John Major there were 35,975 unemployed in the Leeds area. Today there are 23,773. Not good for those 23,773 people out of work of course, but it means there are 34% fewer of them than there were when the last version of do-nothing Toryism was in charge. And there’s far more help and support to get into work than there was back then.

Or take Burnley, which I may have mentioned once or twice before. 3,803 unemployed in ‘92, and 2,441 now. 36% difference. I’m looking forward to the games against Reading on Saturday (6,757 in ‘92, 4,099 now, 39% difference) and the match of the season next week when we unCoyle Bolton (12,885 in ‘92, 8,406 now, 35% difference).

Then there’s Bradford where I had my first term in senior school before we had to move away from Yorkshire after my dad’s accident meant couldn’t practice as a vet any more. 25,277 unemployed in ‘92, as against 15,378 now. A 39% difference.

We moved to Leicester. 18,337 out of work in ‘92, 12,808 now. 30% difference.

My dad was born in the Hebridean island of Tiree and my mum in Ayrshire. Tiree is part of Argyll and Bute, where 4,243 were unemployed in ‘92, and 1,734 now. 59% difference. In East Ayrshire, 7,574 were out of work in ‘92 as opposed to 4,229 now. 44% difference.

My Scottish heritage takes us every year for a holiday at Fort William in the Highlands. 11,460 unemployed in ‘92, 3,910 now. 66% difference. I still have a lot of family elsewhere in Scotland. In ‘92, unemployment across Scotland stood at 251,774. These days, it’s 131,872. 48% difference. My brother is in Glasgow. 48,242 unemployed in ‘92, 23,393 now. 52% difference.

Then there’s my higher education days. Cambridge. 4,386 unemployed in ‘92, 1,920 now. 56% difference.

Tavistock, where I started as a trainee reporter and first met Fiona. 1,881 out of work in ‘92, 558 now. 70% difference.

Since Fiona and I moved to live in London, we’ve lived mainly in Camden. 14,999 unemployed in ‘92, 6,014 now. 60% difference.

The Tories will like to dismiss these figures as fiction. Which reminds me that I’m hundreds of words into a blog and haven’t yet plugged my new novel, Maya. So thinking of the characters in my books, the hero of All in the Mind lives in Chiswick. Hounslow had 11,721 unemployed in ‘92 and 5,477 now. 53% difference.

Maya, which is published on 4 February (price £18.99 from all good bookshops), has two main characters. One lives in Little Venice and the other in Hammersmith. Little Venice is in Westminster, where 12,082 were unemployed in ‘92, 5,265 now. 56% difference. 13,170 were out of work in Hammersmith and Fulham in ‘92, 5,368 now. 59% difference.

I could go on, but you’ve got the point. Now try clicking yourself. If you find a place where the Tories did better, vote for them. If you don’t, join the club. Even better, join the Party and fight to keep the Tories out.

  • jlocke13

    the reason the unemployment is not as great as previously is the huge rise in public sector employment…for example between 1997 and 2008 in Birmingham, there were 80,900 more public sector jobs while private jobs fell by 55,000. non productive jobs that the country can ill afford… and by the way your book is already being offered at a 30% discount at Tesco….

  • Helen Harper

    JLocke, I know you like coming on to tweak AC tail but (I work in publishing) 30 per cent discount at Tesco is good news for a novel yet to come out. And on unemployment, don’t you love the way the right attacks ‘public sector jobs’ – like the thousands more nurses, teachers, police etc? I just did a similar thing for my life AC – born East Midlands, uni Scotland, worked in Manchester, Lincoln and London. All better under Labour

  • Graham Andrews

    History will judge that the Labour government prevented a crisis becoming a catastrophe. If the public reject them in favour of Cameroonism-Osbornology, history will judge Britain then got what it deserved

  • blahblahblah

    “for example between 1997 and 2008 in Birmingham, there were 80,900 more public sector jobs while private jobs fell by 55,000. non productive jobs that the country can ill afford”

    So the NHS, emergency services, primary and high-school education are all “non-productive jobs” now, eh? Same old tories. I remember reading an article in a Tory mag that argued for a privatisation of policing and the army. Hmmm, I wonder how that one would have worked out. Never mind the point about private militias roaming the streets, at least we won’t have so many “non-productive jobs”.

    On a quick side note you don’t possibly think why the numbers of private sector employment IN BIRMINGHAM fell is because they went to private sector jobs in other parts of the country???

  • Alan Quinn

    The right always attacks public sector employees but then watch PMQs where all the tory MPs want more nurses and teachers in their constituencies. A similar thing happens with the CBI, they want to support their tory friends by having lower public spending but always want the benefit of large government infrastructure projects that will benefit their firms order books.

    I do believe Labour can go further in this field, we are going to build a new generation of nuclear power stations and have huge offshore and onshore wind farms. Quite simply Ed Milliband should stipulate that all the kit is UK made wherever possible. The reactors should be made in the UK too, if Rolls Royce can build the reactors to put in our BAE Systems submarines then they can build the ones to power our towns and cities.
    New green jobs can help to rebalance the economy back to manufacturing and away from finance.
    Places like the Corus steelworks might not have had to close if we had ordered the steel necessary to build thousands of wind turbines instead of importing them from overseas. The two new carriers have benefitted Corus to the tune of 80,000 tonnes of steel ordered with the first ship, Queen Elizabeth being started in July last year.

  • David

    2.7 million on long term incapacity benefit (7% of the working population), 40% of them incapacited by mental illness, many of whom I think would have been “ordinary” unemployed in 1992. I don’t know whether this is because New Labour are more sensitive to seeing mental illness as “proper” illness than the wicked Tories, or because New Labour have cynically redefined long term unemployment (caused by economical and political structures) as mental illness (caused by an individual’s brain chemistry) and calmed social unrest by stuffing society’s outsiders with drugs – but it’s not statistically insignificant is it?

  • s chapman

    AC your once again clutching at straws…the electorate don’t like GB they want change.There are far far more Govt workers now than in 1992…its easier to keep unemployment down by emplyoing a lot of people in the public sector that are less productive than the private sector and over the long term cost far more(final salary pensions)less hours worked etc etc – also have you looked at what the average debt of a UK worker/unemployed person was vs now? Don’t your be horrified…This recession was all the harder after GB’s debt party

  • Alan Quinn

    S Chapman.We’ve just had the worst winter weather for years and who got us through it? Public workers. The gritters, the council workers, the paramedics.
    The deal with being a public employee was that you could get a better wage in the private sector but the a decent pension with the public sector, and don’t forget that public workers contribute to their schemes too.

    Quite frankly some of the public sector espiecailly the NHS is alot more efficient than the private sector. As usual the private sector want to cherry the best bits of any contract they tender for and many private health schemes won’t touch compicated health care with a barge pole. And before you ask I’m employed in the private sector.

  • michael

    The stats you present are favourable, but unemployment stats are notoriously slippy. Those of training programmes are not included and flexible new deal took off in the last quarter of 2009, which takes care of all those over 12 months unemployed. Numbers of economically inactive have risen recently and total numbers of those in employment has fallen. Labour did have a good job record, but its welfare reform was too tentative and the boom of the late 90’s early 2000’s will turn to an even greater bust once the Govt reins in spending more sharply after the election. The next decade will be much tougher for everyone.

  • Chris lancashire

    Alan Quinn : The public got itself through it thanks. Roads weren’t gritted, rubbish uncollected, schools closed (health & safety you know).
    With regards to remuneration: the average public sector worker is more highly paid than the equivalent private sector, has enjoyed a wage increase in the last 12 months and STILL has those lovely final salary pension schemes which the rest of us can’t afford.

    Still, the reckoning is near ….

  • Alex Sewell

    The Tories are now switching their attacks on Labour from the economy to society….. I wonder why?

  • dc

    I can only hope people realise how much worse things would be under atory governemt that genuinelt have no interest in helping people!

    today cameron was talking about the conviction of the two boys from Doncaster and says that it is a symptom of wider social problems… and his answer to addressing these social problems is by rolling back the state?! making a case for government to do less?! consistency would be nice!

  • Em

    The state must be involved in helping the unemployed through different programmes and training, but, you know, if I’d got a cushy consulting job out of Eton/Oxford, it might be nearly impossible for me to understand that. If your family and friends have connections and can put in a good for you, your ability to find a good job increases by a factor of nine. Many Tories who are well-born and have benefited all their lives from their position seem to be under the illusion that they are self-made and that what they have is within the grasp of everyone else. They tend to believe people without resources are simply useless.

    Thank you for posting these figures, They are most illuminating and they show that the proof is in the pudding. Labour is the only right party for these times.

    You’re hilarious with your book promotion. Le mot de cambronne!

  • Patrick James

    I feel that preventing unemployment from soaring during this recession has been a great victory for Labour.

    I remember very well the massive unemployment problems during the previous Conservative government.

    The Conservatives are not holistic in the way they look at the economy. They want to decrease the national deficit at all costs. However decreasing the national deficit and increasing unemployment is no good. Unemployed people are unproductive for the state and require unemployment benefit, so the problem of the deficit is simply moved from one place to another.

    A balanced and intelligent approach is required to deal with the national deficit. It does need to come down but not in a way that damages the economy in other ways.

    This I feel is the approach of Brown and Darling, whereas Cameron and Osborne will slash the deficit at great speed but create greater problems than the deficit elsewhere.

  • Robert Jackson

    Headlines – Tories back plan for breaking up large banks…..World stock markets collapse…..

    If opportunism is foolhardy in opposition – it’s surely deadly in Government.

  • Stephen

    Dear Alastair, You would know more than anyone about having the insight and talent to wage political war against your adversories. A single statement, elavated in the right forum, at the right time and targeted in the right way, can switch peoples loyalty from one party to another, in the time it takes for the statement to leave the lips of the messenger. So my point is.

    If you were someone who had already given the other side an advantage that they were going to use against the other side. And that meant one winning power over the other. Why would you choose to also tell it to the labour party? Especially if this strategy would advantage millions of people in this country.
    Would it better for them both to know this advantage – or just one?


  • Alan Quinn

    Mr Lancashire. If the roads weren’t gritted it’s probably because your tory controlled council ran out of grit becuase they cut the budget, this happened where I live. Re you lack of a wage increase and pension try joining a union, they’ve always looked after me.

  • davidh

    I don’t honestly know whether the massaging down of long term unemployed numbers by the use of disability benefits etc fully closes the gap with 1992 or not. However what is clear is that the economy recovered rapidly from 1992, and it and the public finances were in good health when Labour came in in 1997 (and to their credit stayed that way for their first term). However the dreadful profligacy of government spending in recent years has ensured that there was no margin of safety when the crisis hit, and the need to work off the deficit will ensure that any recovery will be muted at best and take a very long time. Gordon Brown is squarely to blame for this. Alistair Darling’s recent joining of the reality based community on this matter is to be welcomed. perhaps his boss will follow at some point.

  • Stephen

    Dear Alastair,
    As a mental health suffer myself i know only to well what it is like to live in the darkness. It is a prison cell, within a prison cell, with no way out, with only anxiety and fear to keep you company. This place is where the cognitive side of your brain has melted down and all you are left with are vague images of a life well spent.

    Recovery is slow and not sure, identity uncertain.

    So how do you climb out? Where too?

    The deeper the hole, the higher you will climb when you finally emerge from the mental condition.

    Can you do that for people Alastair? Do you know how to lead people out of the virtual mind prison?

    Is this a time for innovative thinking in the Labour party?

  • ollie

    “I feel that preventing unemployment from soaring during this recession has been a great victory for Labour.”

    I think that is a complete distortion of fact. Just who exactly has prevented unemployment? The govt, or the thoudsands and thousands of private businesses (you know, the pesky little things that create all of this countries wealth), who have made great sacrifices?

    I simply do not believe that Labour has actively prevented unemployment, any more than I believe there would be millions more unemployed if the Tories had been in office.

    Let’s study the percentage of civil service appointments – jobs created from thin air by Labour. How many Labour constituencies rely on the tax payers shilling to stop them slipping into ghettos? You only have to look at the north east in particular to see the death of wealth creation and left-wing inspired stagnation – ie – governmental jobs.

    How many of those public sector jobs create a single penny of wealth?

    The only thing Labour has succeeded in doing is enabling a massive state expansion of public sector jobs – which are mostly subsidised by borrowing.

    Labour govts DO NOT – and never have – fostered wealth creation. It’s just not in their blood.

  • Stephen

    ollie, we are in the 21st century. There should be no unemployment. It is the greatest shame of the labour party.