Wednesday, 17 March 2010


I have long been suspicious of the Government's official unemployment figures, knowing full well that they do not take account of people in full time education, or people on long term benefits. The statistical definition of 'unemployment' is a considerably (and probably deliberately) woolly one, for the purposes of propaganda.

Far more interesting would be the figures for employment - how many people in the country are actually working. Imagine my delight today when good old Ollie Cromwell announced that he'd sifted through the official data, and come up with some interesting facts.

I have taken them a little further.

Ollie says that (as of December 2009) the total number of people in public sector employment is 6.10 million, and the total number of people in private sector employment is 22.76 million. This gives a total number of people in employment of 28.86 million.

In comparison with the total population of the UK (approx. 61.4 million), this amounts to a total employment rate of 47%.

In other words, 53% of people who live in this country do not work.

Now, some may argue that this is an unfair comparison. After all, some people are too young or too old to work. OK, so let's reduce the total population of the UK to the working population of the UK.

For this calculation we go back to Ollie. The inactivity rate (the proportion of people who are classed as 'economically inactive' rather than 'unemployed') of the working population is 21.5%. The number is 8.16 million. From this, we can calculate the total working population of the UK, which is 37.95 million. So, the total population excluding children and pensioners.

On this basis, the total employment rate for the working age population is 60%.

In other words, 40% of the people of working age who live in this country do not work.

Not looking good, is it?

Now, admittedly, some of the people in that 40% bracket will have justifiable reasons for not working. Some of them will be students. Some of them will not work because they can afford not to. Some of them will not work because they are unable to, either because they care for someone else, or because some illness or injury prevents them from doing so. Some will be actively seeking gainful employment.

But there will be some who can work, and choose not to.

Precisely how much dead weight should we be carrying?

Just a thought.

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