Connected Research

Union policy research in the 21st century

TUC publishes seventh Recession Report

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The TUC’s Recession Report – its seventh – was published today.

The Report contains the usual insightful analysis of a series of issues arising from the officially published employment and unemployment statistics: at the headline levels, the employment rate now stands at 73.6%, a decline from the 74.8% recorded in the first quarter of 2008; while unemployment – on the ILO measure – now stands at 7.1%, a rise from 5.2% one year ago.

National Statistics said this week that the recession during the last three calendar quarters of negative growth has added to unemployment at about the same rate as the recession at the start of the 90s and a little faster than the one at the start of the 90s. Nevertheless, the rising UK population has meant that the number represented by the growth in the percentage of the population who are out of work are higher than before.

In addition, the TUC’s Report includes a special section on pay freezes with the specific intention of counteracting the impression that no-one is getting a pay rise. The Report concludes that pay rises are certainly slowing and that there indeed some pay freezes, but that there are a number of contrary trends too – including National Statistics data which shows that average earnings excluding bonuses are still rising by around 3%.

The TUC correctly believes that a general policy of holding down wage rises in a recession would depress demand, thus exacerbating the recessionary problems, even though there are arguments in some firms, faced with particular and genuine difficulties, for prioritising job security over wage rises.

The special focus in this month’s Report is young workers who, the report comments, are being hit particularly hard by the recession in terms of the sharply rising unemployment levels. Shockingly, unemployment rates among young people aged 18-24 tend to be, for the same levels of educational achievement, over double what they are in the population as a whole. At the same time, the increase in youth unemployment has been double that of 25-49 year olds and treble that experienced by the over 50s.

The Budget contained some measures to prevent ‘a new generation of young people becoming a lost generation’ and that is no doubt the right approach – but, equally, it is clear that more does need to be done.

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Written by Calvin

19/05/2009 at 5:12 pm

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