UNEMPLOYMENT IN THE AGE OF AUSTERITY

UNEMPLOYMENENT IN THE AGE OF AUSTERITY – Stephen McMurray
Definitions
Unemployed
Refers to people without a job who were available to start work in the two weeks following their interview and who had either looked for work in the four weeks prior to interview or were waiting to start a job they had already obtained.
Unemployment Rate
Unemployed as a percentage of the economically active population.
Economically Active
People who are in employment or are actively seeking employment
Statistics (Annual Population Survey)
Jan-Dec 2007: Number of unemployed 1,579,700 (5.2%)
Peaked between Jul 2011-June 2012: Number of unemployed 2,551,700 (8.2%)
April 2014-March 2015: Number of unemployed 1,920,800 (6.1%)
Worst hit sectors (June 2007 – June 2015)
Manufacturing 341,000
Public Administration 282,000
Construction 195,000
Wholesale and retail 110,000
Finance and insurance 38,000
Increase in Part-time Work (170,300)
July 2011 – June 2012: 7,340,700
April 2014 –March 2015: 7,511,000
Increase in Self-employment (511,000) (ONS)
July2011-Sep2011 4,079,000
April2014-July2014 4,590,000
Increase in Zero Hour Contracts (554,000)  (ONS)
2011 190,000
2015 Apr-June 744,000
Disadvantaged Groups in Employment
UK employment rate of people aged 16-64 73.5% (May-July 2015). (ONS)
UK employment rate of disabled people 16-64 46.6% (Apr2014-March2015) (Annual population Survey).
UK employment rate of ethnic minorities 16-64 61.8% (Apr2014-March2015) (Annual population Survey).
Government Response
The Work Programme
Started in the summer of 2011. 15 of the 18 contracts given to private sector organisations. Two year programme, focus on work-first, rather than improving employability.
June 2011 – June 2015 (27%)
Attachments 1,724,690
Jobs 459,370
ESA Claimants (10%)
Attachments 312,710
Jobs 30,790
Sanctions
Increasing use of sanctions if people don’t apply for enough jobs, late for JCP interviews etc. Citizens Advice Scotland estimate that there are 200 sanctions per day in Scotland.
Vacancies (ONS)
June – Aug 2015 740,00 vacancies, probably nearly two million unemployed. Simply not enough jobs in the economy.
Edinburgh Employability Projects Closed
Nisus 2008
Blindcraft 2011
Remploy 2012
SkillNet 2015
The Engine Shed 2015
Woman Onto Work 2015
Impact of Unemployment
Stirling University Study – Unemployment changes personality, less agreeable, motivated, sympathetic, curious.
Discussion
Kate asked how the projects in Edinburgh were financed?
Stephen replied that most came form the City Council budget but that there was also some national government funding available. Both sources of funding have been severely cut.
Pat said she was surprised when she saw the extent of the projects that have been cut in Edinburgh. She had been involved in some of the defence campaogns, and it was useful to have the full list before her.
Despite the misapprehensions of some who saw these projects as merely providing ‘pretend work’, Remply had manufactured engineering components and Blindcraft had produced beds which many people had bought.
These places had been targetted becuse they were easier to close.
Allan said that he seemed to remember in the case of Blindcraft that the Council had deliberately split the workforce, saying that continuing to keep the place open would jeopardise the pay-offs of the longer term employed nearing retirement.
Duncan asked what Nisus did?
Stephen replied that Nisus had provided basic IT skills training fo the unemployed in Leith.
Eric said that he worked for a charity. People on Workfare had been forced to work for charities.
He also pointed out that the personal and social effects of unemployment which Stephen had highlighted applies just as much to the effects of inequality. This had been shown in The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.
He then asked how should RIC use this information?
Stephen said that the differnce between the number of available jobs and the unemployed highlighted the falsity of Osborne’s arguments, desptie the fact that the official unemployment figure underestsimated their real total, and the fact that it would not only be the unemployed who applied for the job vacancies. The poor quality of many jobs was highlighted by the massive expansion of zero hours contracts.
Allan said that when it came to campaigning Mike Vallance’s talk on Workfare ( see http://radicalindyedinburgh.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/resisting-austerity.html) provided a lot of information.
Eric thought that the campaign for a Citizens Income (see http://radicalindyedinburgh.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/anne-miller-of-citizens-income-trust.html) was imporatnt in the context of the fight against unemployment.
Stephen said that a Citizens Income would remove the stigma attached to being unemployed.
Eric said that many unemployed people were being forced to apply for jobs that didn’t really exist. When vacanices were filled they were still posted as being available. Sometimes the same job was advertised in a number of different forms. This whole process is a waste of time as far as getting a job is concerned. However, that is not the rea lpurpse, which is to drive people off the claimants’ list.
Kate said that in her own experience many advertised jobs were filled internally, but were posted externally as being available to meet employment requirements.
Duncan said that official government policy had gone from seeking full employement to managing acceptable levels of unemployment. There are no longer any subsidies available for businesses in trouble.
Allan thought that this reflected the change from the post-war Keysnesian attempts to manage national economies, with one aim of seeking full employment to the post-1979 neo-liberal acceptance that national economies would have to find their niche within the global corporate order, and that unemplomwnt was an indication of a person’s failings, either in tems of skills or not being prepared to accept the pay and conditions demanded by business.
Kate said that big busineeses wanted unemployment to discipline the workforce.
Eric said that despite all the claims they made for themselves about providing large scale unemployment, companies like Walmart and Amazon eliminated more jobs than they created.
Kate said sthat she was shocked to find the Coop using automatic tills.
Pat said that empoyyers argued that zero hours contracts gave workers flexibility. The real answer was to provide permanent contracts with flexible wroking arrangements.
Pat also pointed to the STUC’s Better Than Zero campaign.

 

 

 

 

 

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