Today’s release shows that the standardised unemployment rate, which is based on the Live Register, rose to 11.8% in May from 11.4% in April and 11.0% in March.
As I wrote last month, it’s tempting to be relieved at seeing increases that are less than the huge jumps recorded at the start of the year. But a four-tenths increase in the unemployment rate implies an annual rate of increase of almost five percentage points and this is huge. Certainly, the economy appears to be still contracting, if not at quite the shocking pace of late last year and early this year. In the seventeen months since December 2007, the unemployment rate has increased by 7.2 percentage points or four-tenths per month. Today’s release is exactly in line with that pace of increase.
On a more mundane note, expect to hear plenty over the next few days about how we have “400,000 unemployed” (the total listed on the Live Register). This is despite page one of the release stating:
The Live Register is not designed to measure unemployment. It includes part-time workers (those who work up to three days a week), seasonal and casual workers entitled to Jobseekers Benefit or Allowance.