It is fair to say that the Coalition Government have had a bit of a rollercoaster ride in the politics field since coming to power in 2010. With the eyes of the nation scrutinising their every move, not to mention the issue of the recession to deal with, David Cameron’s Government has had more pressure to deal with in the past two years than most.
However, it appears that, in one area at least, they have had a great deal of success, as the Office of National Statistics have just released figures showing that the number of workers in the private sector has increased by more than one million since the Coalition Government began running the country.
According to the ONS, the number of workers currently employed by private commercial property firms now numbers a record breaking 23.9 million workers. Economists have called this result “encouraging”.
While Mark Hoban, the new employment minister, has said British companies deserve “great credit for continuing to create jobs, even in these tough economic times.”
Unfortunately, there has been doubt cast on to whether this is a genuine victory by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Government. Firstly, a great many of these positions created are part time, meaning that the workers filling these positions must still have the remainder of their living wage and housing subsidised by the taxpayer.
Secondly, the figures may have been skewed by public sector jobs being “reclassified”, meaning that many workers have been shifted from the public to the private sector whilst still keeping the same job roles. In fact, this has affected almost 200,000 commercial property college staff in England recently.
And while the private sector appears to be thriving, in the figures at least, the public sector has taken a severe knock in the past two years. State workers who equal around 20 per cent of the British workforce, have seen almost 63, 000 of their jobs lost since David Cameron took over from Gordon Brown in May 2010. While many of these figures will, again, be due to reclassification, the fact remains that the public sector is lagging behind the private sector in terms of employment opportunities.
Total employment jumped by 236, 000 between May and July this year, which Dr John Philpott from employment research company, The Jobs Economist claims to be “near miraculous” in the current economic conditions.
Yet by far the majority of this increase was based in London, with an increase of 91,000 jobs in the quarter. Elsewhere, employment remained stagnant or even fell in areas such as Scotland, Northern Ireland, the North East, the East Midlands and the South East.
Clearly, then, the problem of unemployment in areas which have the highest rates is still a very real issue for the Government to focus on.
Another issue was pointed out by Ben Broadbent of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee. He claims that employment levels may be so high due to commercial property companies choosing to keep on staff even if they have nothing to do. This has two advantages for the companies in question – firstly, it circumvents the cost of firing them, and secondly it means the company is ready when the economy finally picks up again. Mr Broadbent describes workers in this situation as the “hidden unemployed.”
While the ONS figures do certainly seem to indicate that the Coalition Government has done a great deal for private sector employment, they also omit reasoning behind the totals and fail to paint a full picture of the situation in Britain at the moment. It is clear that David Cameron’s Government has some way to go before employment figures are truly no longer a concern for the British public.