A blog for the socially and politically conscious, written by a young, gay activist who strongly believes in equality and justice.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Rage against unemployment

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showed a fall in unemployment from September to November 2009 of 7,000, to 2.46 million. For young people, the drop was more dramatic, down 16,000. The number claiming unemployment benefits also decreased, by 15,200, to 1.61 million. But this does not tell the whole story, as the number of people in full-time employment fell by 113,000 while part-timers increased by 99,000 to reach a record high of 7.71 million. There were 1.03 million employees and self-employed people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job. This is the highest figure since records for this series began," said the report. Also, the number of inactive people of working age increased by 79,000 over the quarter to reach a record high of 8.05 million. Some people choose not to work, but others give up the search for work because of the futility. For example, only one in four 18-24 year olds who stop claiming the dole, stop because they have got a job. But giving up the search for work decreases the unemployment figures, which the government can then selectively trumpet in the run-up to the general election. Also, the statistics are based on a random sample rather than every individual. Therefore, there is room for error; the ONS estimates that its figure on the number of unemployed people could be as much as 82,000 out. So a 7,000 drop for one three-month period does not signify a decisive change. And while there are less than half a million job vacancies for two and a half million jobseekers (plus one million part time workers), that will not change.

The New Year has begun with a stark reminder of the human cost of the bosses' economic crisis: young people are likely to suffer 'permanent psychological scars' as a result of unemployment, according to the newly released Prince's Trust YouGov Youth Index. The report shows that being unemployed affects young people's health, friendships and family life. This is hardly surprising. Unemployment for under-25 year olds means living on Jobseeker's Allowance of just £50.95 per week. On this poverty income young people cannot afford to go for a night out, buy a CD or DVD, let alone think of a holiday. Even something as simple as using the bus becomes a difficult financial decision. It is no wonder that personal relationships suffer and that unemployed youth are 'significantly less happy' than those in work when forced to live in these circumstances.When you factor in the reduced housing benefits that under-25s are entitled to, the reality is that young people are forced into dependence on friends and family. With so many families struggling to get by anyway, it is no wonder that 25% of the young people questioned said that their unemployment had led to arguments with parents and friends.

The overall impact of this according to Professor David Blanchflower is "an unhappy and debilitated generation of young people who...become decreasingly likely to find work in the future".Young people are being asked to put their lives on hold until the bosses' profits are restored and recruitment picks up again. Unemployment is a cruel punishment inflicted on the young for the failure of the free-market system. The fat cats have messed up people's lives by wrecking the economy and making working-class and young people pay for it. The situation facing young people will only get worse as the politicians line up to take the axe to the public sector, doubtless scaling back the already meagre help to the unemployed. Measures to tackle what many experts have called a 'national emergency' have so far been inadequate in every respect. Young people need permanent jobs that are socially useful and pay a living wage. New Labour undertook the biggest intervention in the economy in history when they bailed out the banks. Why can't the government intervene to help the next generation? Why can't it bail out young people? Capitalist politicians will claim the cost is 'too high'. This report shows the cost of doing nothing is far greater.

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