An article in yesterday’s Guardian by Shiv Malik and James Ball exposes as a fallacy claims by the government, including George Osborne in his autumn statement, to have created half a million new jobs over the past 12 months.
Osborne was referring to figures provided in the September reports on employment from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) which showed that 510,000 new private sector jobs had been created over the past 12 months.
However, the article reveals the fact that a ‘quirk’ meant that the ONS figures included 105,000 people who are in government work schemes rather than in real jobs – and that many of these people were still claiming unemployment benefits. Shadow Employment Minister Stephen Timms MP was quoted as saying:
105,000 of claimed new jobs turn out to be just schemes – this explains why employment seems to have risen.
105,000 jobs out of a claim of 500,000 would mean a huge exaggeration on the part of the government – one that would call into serious question any semblance of credibility it might claim on this issue or any other.
However, that’s not even close to the real extent of the exaggeration. As I pointed out in an earlier article, almost twice as many of the government’s ‘new jobs’ were not new at all.
The ONS employment statistics for the 2nd half of 2012 contained a prominent warning from the ONS to anyone reading the statistics on public sector and private sector jobs. So that you can see just how unmissably prominent the warning was, I’m inserting it as an image rather than as a quote:
I’d call that pretty unmissable, wouldn’t you? Even more so when it’s placed repeatedly next to columns of tiny figures – and that’s exactly how it appears and how it was positioned. But just in case you think I’ve enlarged it or am exaggerating its prominence, here’s a snapshot of the spreadsheet:
And repeated like that all the way up the side of the table of figures.
The warning is very clear: 196,000 jobs were not new at all, but simply reclassified from the public sector into the private.
Take the Guardian’s 105,000 and the ONS’ 196,000 that I revealed some months ago, and you have a total of 301,000 jobs, out of the total of 510,000 that the government has been claiming as new, which are either not real jobs, or simply moved on paper from public to private sector. That means the real figure of 209,000 was exaggerated by a massive 144%.
Osborne and his colleagues were aware of these facts – they admitted it to the Guardian about the 105,000 jobs, and they couldn’t possibly miss the warning in the ONS statistics. Yet they went ahead and made the claim anyway – deliberately and completely misleading the public and Parliament for the sake of a snappy soundbite.
However, we’re not quite done yet. A look at the September ONS table shows that the most recent figure (at that point up to Jul 2012) for the number of people employed full-time was 21,438,000. The number of people 12 months earlier was 21,325,000 – 113,000 fewer. Of the 209,000 jobs that were new, only just over half were full-time. Almost half of the government’s supposed economic ‘achievement’ was in part-time (mostly low-paid) jobs.
An absolute exaggeration of 144% combined with misuse of what’s left, and all to deceive the electorate. There’s one thing you can say about this government: