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Labour market recovery masks fastest rise in long-term unemployment since 2010 – IES comment on Labour Market Statistics
Long-term unemployment up by 28% on last year – with long-term unemployment among over-50s at its highest since 2016
18 May 2021
Dear Tim Worstall,
Commenting on today’s Labour Market Statistics, IES Director Tony Wilson said:
“Today’s figures confirm that the labour market is turning the corner – with a sharp rise in employee jobs in April as the economy reopened, vacancies rising and unemployment now clearly trending down. However you don’t have to look too far to see the lasting damage caused by a year of lockdowns and disruption. Long-term unemployment rose by more than a quarter in the last year, its fastest rate of growth since the 2010 crisis. Older people in particular are now starting to see sharp rises, with long-term unemployment reaching its highest in five years. With many firms reporting difficulties in filling jobs as the economy reopens, government and employers will need to do more to bring the long-term unemployed back into work and help avoid this crisis leading to lasting scars.”
Yes, quite so. As Richard Layard pointed out the difference in US and UK unemployment is largely over the number of long term unemployed. It pretty much doesn’t exist in the US as benefits – normally – run out after 6 months. It does exist in the UK as benefits don’t run out. Short term unemployment in both countries seems to vary similarly with the business cycle. The long term doesn’t.
The solution is, as Layard also pointed out, to stop paying people to be long term unemployed. Set a time limit on benefits and they won’t be.
True, we can go all Denmark and offer lots of training in the – say – two years leading up to the cut off but a cut off would stop long term unemployment.
All very well, but you just move the problem from the unemployment queue to the long term sickness queue and THEN need to weed out the slackers and fakers from that which necessitates (because of equal treatment and non-discrimination) forcing the genuinely disabled through various tests to weed out the fakers “on the pan crack” with newspaper headlines when you screw it up (as the bureaucracy inevitably does) with headlines about “Terminal cancer victim has benefits cancelled” or “Dead man sent letter saying he’s fit for work”.
The Ken Loach propaganda piece “I, Daniel Blake” being a prime example of how this sort of thing sounds sensible at the outset and yet becomes a bureaucratic nightmare in the implementation, all because we can’t turn round to some lazy sod and say “Your problem is your a lazy bum who just wants to sit in the pub all day” – APPLICATION DENIED.
How much training does it take before you can pick up litter by the roadside?
Didn’t you mention the other day how the poorest 5% in the US really don’t do at all well? Maybe a connection?
I take your point. Please explain why these putative scandals don’t happen in America.
The economy has moved on and there are plenty of jobs that can be done even by the disabled. We are much more sedentary.
A rather ungallant thought. Has the increased participation of women in the workforce crowded out opportunities for the disabled?
Didn’t Obama whack the time up to 24 months or so?
“How much training does it take before you can pick up litter by the roadside?”
Picking plastic out of hedges is my preferred alternative. Removal of that unsightly problem would add to the joy of human existence.
When we take the dog for a walk we take a litter picker-upper and do some tidying up. Now I feel guilty because I’m doing some deserving chap out of a job.
The litter-clearing authorities don’t want to employ somebody who has been forced into the job.
I have a lot of sympathy for someone who is genuinely disabled, and therefore has to rely on the state, but the sympathy begins to evaporate when I hear the bleeder complain that it took all day (once a month) to demonstrate that status, when it took me thirty times as long to earn my crust.
Long term benefits are an excellent way to keep very lazy people out of jobs. This is a good thing if you’re an employer, as an employee who hates their job has many ways to harm a business merely through slacking off. The world is full of people extremely keen to work, who will pay smugglers lots of money and take big risks with their lives to get here. Why do we need to employ lazy people? And, of course, if you leave people without enough to live on, a significant fraction will not just lay down and die – they’ll turn to crime, Often they’ll put a lot more effort into low-yielding crime than they would into a job which pays more. This is probably also one of the reasons why the USA has a murder rate four times that of England.
Long term unemployment correlating with getting paid is nothing new. My brother, about 40 years ago, was low man on the totem pole in a union job at a truck plant. Truck manufacturing is cyclical. Layoffs for the low man were regular events. My brother was single and so would camp out at his favorite lake, going into town once a week to lie to the unemployment office clowns and pick up his check. He told me: if they wanted me to get a job, all they have to do is stop paying me. Of course he didn’t want another job because his union job paid great and had good benefits, other than a several month lay off every couple of years. This ain’t rocket science.