Monday, November 15, 2010

Arithmetic and unemployment

Clearly neither irony nor self-examination is Melanie Phillips' strong point as she has accused the left of 'foaming with rage' - adding that this has clouded our use of basic arithmetic when it comes to the problem of unemployment and the coalition's suggested medicine of workfare:
"[T]hey don’t even realise that their own claims don’t add up.

[...]

The fact is that much worklessness results from people calculating they are better off on benefits than in low-paid jobs. It’s that calculation that IDS is trying to reverse."
Much worklessness? How much? Mel doesn't say. The fact of the matter, according to the government's own figures, is that there are 5.2 people unemployed for every vacancy in the UK today. Perhaps I'm missing something but doesn't that mean that regardless of the morality of the unemployed, there simply are not at present jobs available for them all? I appreciate this is an average and doesn't reflect the imbalances in the labour market. Some sectors will still be struggling to fill vacancies in areas where specialist skills are required. But it would seem that the demand for ranting former-left journalists who prefer moral condemnation to empirical data is depressingly inelastic...
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