May brags about record employment — but what are those jobs really worth?

Too much of the increase in employment is down to unstable, poorly paid jobs that don't take people out of poverty

Theresa May opened her first Prime Minister’s Questions with a celebration of the ONS jobs figures released this morning.

And indeed, they show that a record number of people are in employment. However, any deeper analysis of the state of UK employment undermines her claim that the Conservatives are building ‘an economy for everyone’.

Analysis published by the IFS yesterday showed that two thirds of children below the government’s absolute poverty line are poor are poor despite the fact that at least one of their parents is in work.

In other words, the much-heralded increases in employment are not reducing rates of poverty and the IFS describes increasing the incomes of poor families as the government’s ‘big challenge on living standards.

‘Tackling low income is increasingly about tackling the problems faced by low-earning working households,’ commented associate IFS director Robert Joyce. ‘Ultimately substantial progress will depend crucially on economic policies that push up productivity.

‘Economic uncertainty following the Brexit vote will only serve to make these challenges all the tougher.’

The prime minister should also pay more attention to the huge increases in self-employment, which account for much of the increase in employment. This trend is not attributable to greater entrepreneurship, but to more workers signing unstable contracts with fewer rights, less pay and little job security.

self employment

‘We need more decent jobs,’ commented TUC general secretary Frances O’ Grady in response to the ONS figures. ‘Not working conditions like those exposed at the courier firm Hermes these week, where workers were pushed on to self-employed contracts with fewer rights.’

For months, employment figures have offered the Tories something to crow about while the country collapsed, and working people around the country battled to make ends meet.

May, who is keen to paint herself as a social justice warrior, must be pressed to explain why she’s bragging about new jobs that aren’t actually bringing the most vulnerable out of poverty.

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14 Responses to “May brags about record employment — but what are those jobs really worth?”

  1. Jacko

    Where do you think ‘well-paid’ jobs come from ? From private business, seeking employees with skills. If you want a better paid job you have to acquire those skills. That’s all there is to it. Politicians can’t help you, you have to help yourself. These kind of articles just perpetuate that helpless, victim-mentality homogeneous view that the Left has of ‘the poor’.

  2. Richard MacKinnon

    Jacko,
    I agree. Even after that crazy period under Labour when it was better for the poor to claim social security benefits rather than work there are still deluded left wing do gooders that think its politicians that create jobs.

  3. Brumanuensis

    Jacko:

    “Where do you think ‘well-paid’ jobs come from ? From private business, seeking employees with skills. If you want a better paid job you have to acquire those skills. That’s all there is to it. Politicians can’t help you, you have to help yourself”.

    Are you really arguing, Jacko, that only private-sector organisations offer well-paid jobs? Have you got any evidence for that?

    I’m also intrigued by your claim that people need to ‘acquire skills’? Which skills and how? How will the training required be funded? Who should it be obtained from? What if the training in question is not available in your area? Details please.

    Richard MacKinnon:

    “I agree. Even after that crazy period under Labour when it was better for the poor to claim social security benefits rather than work there are still deluded left wing do gooders that think its politicians that create jobs”.

    Could you explain which period that was, which social security benefits you are referring to and what evidence you have for your claim? Am I also to understand that you think macro-economic policy has no effect upon the labour market?

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  5. ted francis

    Well said Brumanuensis. It seems that Jacko and his fellow travellers seem to be Sun economists. Their ideological view of their countrymen is not only wildly inaccurate but factually unfounded. The much vaunted million new jobs are almost exclusively in the service sector and includes 000’s of couriers receiving below the minimum wage (vide today’s Guardian survey). How are you employed Jacko? Are you a beneficiary of this blessed employment renaissance? Or are you a Central Office messenger boy?

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