The government’s response to the new employment figures is the sneakiest thing you’ll read this week

Theresa May facing meltdown
Steve Topple

On 15 November, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released the latest employment figures for July to September.

But instead of telling the public the whole truth about the decrease in unemployment, Theresa May’s government manipulated the ONS figures. The rise in employment is actually down to previous Conservative-led governments forcing women to work longer.

So far, so good

The ONS has said that the unemployment rate is now 4.3%, down from 4.8% for a year earlier and the joint lowest since 1975. It also found that:

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  • 32.06 million people were in work, 14,000 less than for April to June but 279,000 more than the same time last year.
  • The number of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work was 75.0%, up from 74.4% a year earlier.
  • There were 1.42 million unemployed people, 59,000 less than for April to June and 182,000 less than for a year earlier.

So the government announced the figures on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) website. It said:

Increases in full-time and permanent work are behind the figures.

And Minister for Employment Damian Hinds said:

The strength of the economy is driving an increase in full-time, permanent jobs and a near-record number of people are now in work thanks to the government’s welfare reforms.

Unfortunately for the government and Hinds, this is simply not the case. Because the ONS was specific in its reasons for the increase in employment. And it wasn’t due to the “strength of the economy”.

Hang on a minute…

The ONS said that:

The annual increase in the number of people in employment (279,000) was mainly due to more women in full-time employment (215,000).

It also noted that:

70.6% of women aged from 16 to 64 were in work, up from 69.7% for a year earlier.

The ONS concluded:

The increase in the employment rate for women was partly due to ongoing changes to the State Pension age for women resulting in fewer women retiring between the ages of 60 and 65.

The DWP says…

But the DWP disagreed with the ONS analysis. A spokesperson told The Canary:

[The DWP] don’t feel the need to clarify any further. But for information, the ONS every month mention the fact that the employment rate for women increases due to changes in the State Pension age for women. The ONS showed that over the past year there has been an increase in the amount of permanent jobs… which [Hinds] was highlighting in his quote.

The changes in the state pension age for women have been controversial. And a campaign, Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI), is aiming to highlight the situation.

WASPI women: in employment when they should have retired

As The Canary previously reported, the 1995 Conservative government’s Pension Act included plans to increase women’s state pension age to 65, which is the same as men’s. But the government did not contact the women affected until 2009 – 14 years later. At first, the government planned to slowly phase the reforms in. But in 2011, the then chancellor George Osborne decided to speed up the process by several years.

As a result of these reforms, hundreds of thousands of women born in the 1950s (on or after 6 April 1951) have seen their retirement age increase by up to six years. And the women affected have had little or no time to make plans to finance the additional years without a pension. It has meant that women cannot claim their pension until 65 from November next year and until 66 from October 2020.

So thousands of these women have been left with little choice but to work longer. And as the ONS clearly says, it is this which has meant the employment rate looks good. Not May’s economic competence.

Get Involved!

– Follow WASPI on Facebook.

– Write to your MP and tell them to support WASPI.

Featured image via YouTube

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