Last week we heard the dismal news that the unemployment figure in the UK continues to rise. Figures released for the three month period from September to November 2011 indicated that the unemployment rate stood at nearly 2.7 million, or 8.4% of the total eligible working population. This figure, the highest since 1994 is an average and obscures the acute nature of the problem amongst certain regions, or sections of the population. For example, the unemployment rate in the North East, an area decimated by Thatcher’s economic reforms and neglected by governments since the end of her period in office, stands at around 12%. The unemployment rate amongst young people, aged 18-24, is over 22%, the highest figure since records began.
A significant number of the young unemployed are graduates who, having dedicated years to study and accumulated thousands of pounds worth of debt, are subsequently dumped in a situation where they are unable to make best use of their education or pay back their loans. They struggle to find employment or are forced to make do with lower paid unskilled jobs.
An example of the nature of joblessness amongst young adults was illustrated by the case of a twenty three year old Archaeology graduate interviewed on Channel Four news last week. He described, to presenter John Snow, his difficulties in securing anything exceeding a temporary unskilled job. Despite obtaining a decent degree from a respectable university, he has now been unemployed for over 12 months. The curse of unemployment affects youth across the board, whether or not they have a tertiary qualification.
In the 1980s, well paid manufacturing jobs supported by a strong union voice disappeared to be replaced by lower paid, and sometime temporary, service sector jobs.
The Con-Dem coalition continues its attacks on public sector jobs, which still retain a relatively solid unionised base, making redundant thousands of public sector workers. The government’s claim that the private sector would replace these lost jobs has been shown to be another fallacy. It doesn’t take an economist to realise that the greater the number of redundancies, the greater the welfare bill will be and the less disposable income that people will have to pump back into the economy. As has been suggested from some quarters, a more workable way out of the crisis would be to create jobs. One such suggestion revolves around the expansion of the green energy sector. Such job creation would not only tackle unemployment levels, allowing both skilled and unskilled workers to make best use of their qualifications and talents, but could also place Britain at the forefront of a global renewable energy revolution, potentially reviving a declining industrial base as demand grows for its development and expansion.
While the majority of the population are, to a greater or lesser degree adversely affected by imposed austerity measures- be it job losses, a delayed retirement with a smaller pension, or changes (ie: cuts) to their disability benefit, it is business as usual for the only real beneficiaries of the Con-Dem agenda. Whilst Cameron has paid lip service to public outrage and parliamentary pressure by muttering about reducing the bonus of RBS CEO, Stephen Hester, the banker will still receive £963,000, in place of a proposed 1.3 million bonus. This is in addition to a seven figure salary for his role in administering a bank in which the taxpayer holds an 83% stake. As RBS is mostly nationalised, the government could have exerted stronger influence over affairs at the institution. A major reduction of Mr Hester’s bonus would be an austerity measure met with some applause by the general public.
Categorised in: Editorial
This post was written by Tomasz Pierscionek