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Ian Brinkley

Two nation labour market recovery continues – but with underlying signs of weakness

Authors: Ian Brinkley Anna Kharbanda

13 July 2011

Commenting on today’s labour market statistics, Ian Brinkley, The Work Foundation Director, said:

'The labour market continues to defy warnings about a double dip recession and overall job growth remains strong. But part-time and temporary jobs are now growing faster than full time and permanent work, a reversal of recent trends and a warning that the underlying strength of the jobs recovery is slackening.

More worrying is that this is still a two nation recovery. Over the past year, around three quarters of all new jobs have been in Southern England*, while the number of new jobs in Northern Britain** contracted. Elsewhere, the picture is mixed – the East Midlands, Wales and Northern Ireland all saw strong job growth, but the West Midlands saw no increase in employment levels.

The unemployment measures are moving in different directions: the number of people claiming benefits has gone up, but the number of people actively seeking jobs, using the more comprehensive international definition of unemployment, went down***.

It may be that we are seeing the first impact of the government’s attempts to move more people off longer term benefits onto Job Seekers Allowance. But it may also be an acceleration of job losses among those more likely to sign on for unemployment benefits, such as manual and administrative, clerical and sales workers.'


Notes to editors

  1. Ian Brinkley is available for interviews, briefings and written comment.
  2. The Work Foundation is the leading independent authority on work and its future. It aims to improve the quality of working life and the effectiveness of organisations by equipping leaders, policymakers and opinion-formers with evidence, advice, new thinking and networks. In October 2010, Lancaster University acquired The Work Foundation, forming a new alliance that will enable both organisations to further enhance their impact.
  3. *South East, Eastern, London and the South West. In the year to March-May 2011 employment went up by 233,000 in these regions out of a total UK increase of 309,000.
  4. **North West, North East, Yorkshire and Humberside, and Scotland. In the year to March-May 2011 employment in these regions and countries went down by 19,000. There was a fall of 74,000 in Northern England and a rise of 55,000 in Scotland.
  5. ***looked for work in past 4 weeks, able to start a job in 2 weeks time

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