A little data point about unemployment

An anecdote if you prefer.

A member of the extended family (recently divorced, young children, part time at uni training to be a teacher and currently on benefits….and yes, of course, familial support) was advised that actually, (and I don\’t pretend to understand the details of the benefits system in sufficient depth to work this out) she would be better off doing part time work plus the part time uni.

She was told this yesterday, Tuesday.

She starts part time work on Friday this week.

I agree that it\’s only an anecdote. But some jobs do seem to be available for those who find that work pays.

13 thoughts on “A little data point about unemployment”

  1. The problem is that the unemployment experience varies hugely from person to person. I know some people who say “ohhhh noes, there’s no jobs and that” and actually, they’re too proud to accept a job in a supermarket, or washing car windscreens.

    At the same time I know some people who would quite happily accept the job of “Keeper of the Royal Stool” if it still existed, just to end the shame of having to rely on parents/state handouts.

    For me what this illustrates is the inadequacy of the classical aggregate “unemployment rate” statistic. Far more useful is the median unemployment period — which is about 10 weeks in the UK — which measures the liquidity of the jobs market. I don’t have the figures to hand, but knowing the distribution — maybe upper and lower quartiles, a sexy histogram, maybe grouped by “highest educational qualification” of the jobseeker/job requirements — would be far far more useful to understand the nature of unemployment in the UK than just the aggregate rate.

  2. Isn’t your example meaningless? Of course people are finding work as people are winning the lottery.
    The odds of each are important.

  3. So by pure coincidence Tim just happened to know the lucky person who got this week’s one job? That’s about as likely as just happening to know the person who won this week’s lottery.

  4. “That’s about as likely as just happening to know the person who won this week’s lottery.”

    No it isn’t.
    Because the lottery number is randomly generated, the only requirement on Tim’s choice of acquaintance would be that they buy lottery tickets. If his choice of acquaintance favours those who are highly likely to get an offer of employment within 3 days of seeking work then the anecdote is probable.
    Which is the point of the anecdote.

  5. >No it isn’t.
    >Because the lottery number is randomly generated, the only requirement on Tim’s choice of acquaintance would be that they buy lottery tickets. If his choice of acquaintance favours those who are highly likely to get an offer of employment within 3 days of seeking work then the anecdote is probable.
    >Which is the point of the anecdote.

    *Sigh.*

  6. “Of course people are finding work as people are winning the lottery.”

    My cousin won a multi-million pound Lottery jackpot this year.

  7. She sounds like she has been advised to do ‘permitted work’. This is where a person can work under sixteen hours a week and earn under £94 gross a week and still keep all their benefits. The rationale is that it is designed to assist people back into employment who have not worked for a long time, by starting them off part time. And it persuades people who are worried that they will lose all their benefits if they do any work.

    Quite sensible really. We would have to pay them the same rate of benefits anyway, and studies show that working makes people happier.

  8. Rumbold,

    Since she’s got young children, it’s more likely to be a tax credit thing. Work 16 hours per week, for a low income (up to £7.70 per hour), and you get lots of tax credits.

    And I mean really lots, by low income standards. A single parent, with 3 children (1 of which is a baby), working 16 hours per week at up to £7.70 per hour, would get almost £12,000 per year.

    That’s tax free. On top of her salary (which, at that level, will also be tax free). And potentially keeping a lot of her benefits as well.

  9. So Much For Subtlety

    How long is it before someone claims that this is socially unjust because a nice middle class girl is far more likely to be able to rely on her social capital and general list of contacts to get work that a horny handed son of a whippet factory worker etc etc?

    I would have thought comparing getting a job with winning the lottery is about as asinine as anything anyone could say. The economy creates (and destroys) hundreds of millions of jobs every year.

    It is happens I was speaking to three semi-legal Asian over-stayers recently. All three in work. Two of them in fairly nice work at that. Which brings the number of Asian people with questionable work-status I know without jobs to roughly zero. Isn’t it amazing that the lottery is always won by people with a strong work ethic and no legal right to benefits?

  10. “Isn’t it amazing that the lottery is always won by people with a strong work ethic and no legal right to benefits?”

    You know what’s coming: a strong work ethic will be considered an inherited privilege and “unfair” to those who inherited a feckless attitude. Thus society must shackle those with a work ethic and the fruits of their effort redistributed to the feckless. In the name of “fairness” you understand.

    Some might say this has already happened.

  11. Richard:

    Yes, you could be right. I suppose we would need more details. The difficulty is what constitutes part time. In ordinary life it tends to mean any under 35 hours or so. For the benefits system, the magic figure is sixteen hours.

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