Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Unemployment falls... and rises....

The BBC is reporting that UK unemployment has fallen unexpectedly for the first time in 18 months. UK unemployment is at 2.46million.

But the figures are up in Scotland.

However, even given the increase in Scotland, the Scottish average is still lower than the UK: Scottish figures are at  7.6% unemployed as against the UK average of 7.8%. 

Given that we are experiencing an unprecedented global banking crisis and recession, these numbers would appear to be, if not very good news, at least not really bad news.

It appears to show that the UK government has taken the right actions in a difficult situation, and that gloomy predictions of unemployment being worse than the Tory recessions of the '80s and '90s,
with unemployment predicted to be at 4million plus, are well off the mark. With any luck numbers of this frightening proportion can be avoided this time

One great difference from the Tory years is that, when the recessions of the '80s and '90s hit, the Tory Governments of Thatcher and Major did virtually nothing to mitigate the effects. Entire communities, villages, small towns, areas of towns and cities, which had been dependent upon particular industry sectors such as coal, steel, shipbuilding etc. were simply left to rot. The immortal Tory quotes from the time are "if it isn't hurting, it isn't working" (i.e. let unemployment rip) and "there is no such thing as society" (i.e. they're only working class, let them rot).

In the last 13 years under Labour there has been a general policy of reducing unemployment where possible and, where specific problems did arise, there have been targeted programmes to ameliorate the worst effects  in particular sectors or geographic areas.

Any unemployment is bad of course, and there may be more rises in the pipeline, but the limiting of the worst effects by Gordon Brown and Alasdair Darling, by dint of deliberate policy, in this recession has to be a good thing.

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