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An employment milestone has been reached today (with a little help from a statistical reclassification and part-time workers)

By Peter Hoskin
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The labour market statistics released today are much like last month’s (which I blogged about, at the time, here and here). There are important concerns — among them, the widening gap between earnings growth and inflation — but the overall story is rather encouraging. The number of people in employment rose by 236,000 in the three months to July, to 29.56 million. And, while the unemployment rate has remained basically flat, there 7,000 fewer people out of work and 15,000 fewer claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance.

What has really got ministers trilling, though, is the fact that there are now, for the first time, one million more people working in the private sector than when the Coalition came to power. In fact, private sector employment has risen by 1.07 million (to 23.9 million) since the second quarter of 2010, while public sector employment has fallen by 628,000 (to 5.66 million).

Here’s the graph:


There are two caveats to apply to this, however. The first is that “Further Education Corporations and Sixth Form College Corporations in England” counted towards public sector employment until the end of the first quarter this year, but now count towards private sector employment. This means that the latest private sector figure is around 196,000 higher than it would have been otherwise (with the public sector lower by the same amount, of course). Without this reclassification, private sector employment would be 874,000 higher than when the Coalition took over.

The second is that a good portion of the rise in private sector employment can be accounted for by part-time workers, who have risen in number by 194,000 since the election, to 8.12 million. And there are now 1.42 million people who want to work full-time but are having to work part-time; a record high. But, as I said last time around, I doubt this will concern the government too much. As they see it, part-time is better than no-time, and can lead to full-time employment in the end.


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