As ever, there are loads of sources that students can use to analyse the Budget and to extract pieces of Evidence for the Examples they will need to add depth to their analysis in essays. Those who are attending the current round of revision workshops will recognise this as a key part of ensuring that they write essays which PEEL the answer (each paragraph makes one Point, using Examples with Evidence, offering Evaluation and Linking to the question). As start points, I would suggest these sources which are reasonably free of opinions:
BBC website: Budget 2012 at a glance, Farewell 50p tax rate, and Over 65-s tax-free income freeze
The Guardian Budget 2012: welfare cuts, tax cuts too, but retreat on child benefit and for the visual learners a nice graphic version: Tax and spending plans visualised
One of my favourite little statistical gems has always been the claim that the NHS is the world’s third largest employer, after the Indian Railways and the Chinese army, so it is deeply disappointing to find that this is not true - it’s actually only the fifth on the list with 1.7 million staff.
Ahead of the NHS are McDonalds’ global workforce in 4th place (1.9 million), Walmart, including Asda in the UK in third (2.1 million), the Chinese army 2nd with 2.3 million and, at the top of the table, the US Department of Defense with a whopping 3.2million staff - although only 1.6 million of these are on active service,with the rest in civilian and other support roles.read more...»
On Thursday, I was fortunate enough to get a ticket to see Michael Sandel speak at LSE. I have attended several events at LSE in the past two years and this was, by some margin, the best I have seen. Michael was delivering the first of three lectures and the subject for discussion was whether bankers should be paid more than nurses. Although this type of discussion is commonplace in our classrooms, Michael’s background as a philosopher meant that the event had me thinking about the issue in new ways. The style used relies almost entirely on contributions from the audience and makes it difficult to summarise but what follows is my best effort.read more...»
Migration from one country to another has become an increasingly important feature of our globalizing world and it raises many important economic, social and political issues. About 200-million people — about 3% of the world’s population — now live in countries in which they were not born. In the United Kingdom in 2010, the number of international migrants as a percentage of the population rose above 10% for the first time after several years of high rates of net inward migrationread more...»
A summary of the highest and lowest paid jobs in the UK labour market can be found here. I often use this data and resource links as starting points for discussion introductory labour market economics for EdExcel Unit 1 and it might also be handy for AQA Unit 3 economics.read more...»
Here is an updated presentation for A2 microeconomics on some economic aspects of trade unions in the UK.read more...»
We have followed Stephen Stubbs on the economics blog before. This committed man from the north-east of England has been out of work for more than a year and had filed nearly two thousands job applications in a concerted and lengthy pursuit of a fresh job. What marvellous news it is that he has found work with the student loans company. Here are two videos that tell the story of his long and difficult pathway to finding new work.read more...»
Here is a selection of short news video resources on trade unions in the UKread more...»
I am teaching trade unions as part of our study of labour markets in the UK and the rest of Europe. This data from Timetric tracks the number of days lost from industrial disputes / stoppages and is always useful in providing historical context. Data on UK trade union membership can be found here
* Trade union density for employees in the UK was just 26.6 per cent in 2010
* Trade union membership levels for UK employees was 6.5 million compared with 2009. Across all sectors of the economy, just under half of UK employees (46.1 per cent in 2010) were in a workplace where a trade union was present
* The hourly earnings of union members, according to the LFS, averaged £14.00 in 2010, 16.7 per cent more than the earnings of non-members (£12.00 per hour)
The award-winning journalist Paul Mason provides this video report on low pay for hundreds of thousands of people who work for the big four supermarkets. I use this video when teaching monopsony power in the labour market. For many people, supermarket workers’ wages are being supplemented by state benefits such as child tax creditsread more...»
This article could be useful as an illustration of the EU context in relation to employment in general, and flexible employment in particular. Attracting inward FDI is arguably a significant benefit of UK membership of the EU, and one of the advantages which the UK can offer compared to, say, France is relatively flexible employment laws.read more...»
This article on the appalling depth of workless households in Liverpool is a reminder of the multiple aspects of relative poverty and economic/social exclusion.
The causes of unemployment are complex - many are structural - but it is hard to draw much if any optimism from reading this article. By some estimates over one third of households in Liverpool have no one in work and second and third generation unemployment is not uncommon. This is a must article for students to read if they want a better awareness of the human cost of non-employment. Read: Below the breadline on Liverpool’s workless estatesread more...»
Tim Harford has a piece in his regular column in the Financial Times which discusses some of the issues surrounding the minimum wage and whether a legal pay floor can actually create jobs. Here is the link
This blog entry brings together a selection of recent news reports and videos covering the economics of unemployment in the UK and inother countries.read more...»
In A2 macroeconomics the underlying causes of economic growth and development and constraints on both of these are covered in more depth. One of the concepts students might be familiar with is that of human capital.
I have always summarised the idea of human capital as being a measure of the overall quality of the human input available to produce goods and services in an economy. The ONS have published a new study on the value of human capital in the UK and they draw on a definition given by the OECDread more...»
One feature of the jobs market data in the UK in the last couple of years has been the surge in measured levels of self-employment (the data is collected as part of the huge Labour Force Survey)
The total number of self-employed people in the UK increased by 166,000 in the three months to the end of November to reach 4.14 million - this is the highest number of self-employed people since comparable records began in 1992.
What helps to explain the growth of self employment? Optimists might claim that it is a sign of a pick up in entrepreneurial activity in Britain as many people who have been made redundant decide to strike out on their own by starting a new business.
A more realistic explanation is that rising self employment is a sign of macroeconomic weakness. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs and a sizeable number will simply re-categorise themselves as self employed when they are quizzed as part of the Labour Force Survey. They are likely to be scouting around for jobs and are much likely to take one or more part time jobs when they can.
Part time employment was up sharply, but do not forget that the number of full-time employees fell by 188,000 in the three-month period covering August, September and October - that is more than 2,000 people per day losing their jobs.
The Coalition Government recently heralded a new scheme designed to address the structural problem of high youth unemployment in the UK economy. Under their “youth contract” plan, employers will be given “wage incentives” worth £2,275 to take on some 160,000 18-to-24-year-olds. But will it have much impact on the problem? The independent Office for Budgetary Responsibility says that the net effect on overall unemployment will be close to zero, because the subsidy incentive will lead to a switch in employment away from older workers.read more...»
Around this time of my micro course my students look at maximum prices (price ceilings) in different markets. There are still plenty of contemporary examples to consider, for example salary caps for executives, caps on the cost of mobile phone texts and roaming charges, rent ceilings etc. But here is a resource that will be of special interest to football-loving economists, namely the 50th anniversary of the ending of the maximum wage in football. The Independent has this nifty set of graphics looking at landmarks in wages of top footballers over the years. Click on: The maximum wage and football’s money trail
The presentational style might leave a little to be desired, but this analytical ONS video might provide colleagues with a different teaching resource to help explain the rapid rise in UK unemployment.read more...»
Regional unemployment is seen as a significant economic problem, but employers may be reluctant to relocate if the educational quality of the workforce is below par. The term NEET refers to young people Not in Education, Training and Employment, and it appears that there are significant pockets of NEETs across the mainland of Great Britain.read more...»
At a time when millions of people are taking nominal or real pay cuts, the news that chief executives of FTSE-100 companies have seen their earnings rise by 43% in the last year is particularly difficult to stomach.read more...»
When teaching price elasticity of demand, here is a good article on the BBC today on the effect of higher university fees on demand for higher education. Good for discussion of how PED will differ with respect to different types of consumer and for different types of universities, as well as the cross price elasticity of demand with foreign universities.read more...»
There were some desperately disappointing unemployment and employment numbers published for the UK economy today. Even taking due note of the need not to focus too much on one set of data the UK labour market looks to be weakening as fast as the autumn leaves are falling. The human and social cost of the high jobless figures is enormous and the macroeconomic effect of fewer people in work and paying taxes will dent further hopes of a solid recovery.read more...»
Over many years the rate of change of unit labour costs (ULCs) has been a decent reliable indicator of inflationary pressures in the UK economy. Times when wage costs adjusted for productivity have grown quickly have often coincided with a rise in the annual rate of inflation - little wonder when payroll costs are a sizeable chunk of operating expenses for many businesses.
But in the last couple of years we have seen a growing disconnect between unit labour cost inflation and the published figures for CPI.read more...»
An October 2011 edition of Panorama from the BBC investigates low pay and poor working conditions for thousands of people struggling to earn a decent living in the care homes sector.read more...»
In these times of austerity, job insecurity and falling real incomes, tube drivers in London appear to have on the table a relatively generous-looking offer from their employers London Underground. A four year pay deal will be put to union members that could take the gross pay of Tube drivers, currently around £46,000, to over £50,000, while some staff could receive a £10,000 pay rise over the four years.
Union density has been falling for a long period in the British economy as a whole but remains high for drivers most of whom are members of Rail Maritime and Transport union under their media savvy leader Bob Crow. The tube drivers would appear to have genuine clout in their collective bargaining negotiations especially with the London 2012 Olympics less than a year away. The authorities will be desperate to avoid or at least minimise the risk of industrial action as the Games come into focus and the eyes of the world are on the capital.
In return for agreeing to temporary changes to existing working arrangements during the Games, all train drivers employed by LU will receive a one-off payment of £500.read more...»
As the government increased the NMW this weekend by 15p to £6.08 an hour for adults….....the minimum wage may be pricing young people out of work because employers are finding it too expensive to give them their first job, Government pay advisers have said. Good application here for discussing real-wage classical unemployment.
Read more here.
I don’t think this dilemma is anything new, but Aviva’s Family Finance Report presents some up-to-date figures which show how difficult it can be for working parents to fund the cost of the childcare that makes it possible for them to take a job. Based on average pay rates, they estimate that a parent of two children working full time would only keep £120 a month of their pay after paying all the costs associated with work, including travel as well as childcare, while those who take a part-time job may actually be £98 a month worse off. The trade-off faced by working parents if they decide to swap the unpaid role of full-time childcare at home for paid work outside the home, which necessitates paying for some other form of childcare, has always been an issue, but the gap between the gain in pay and the loss in costs seems to be getting more difficult to manage.
The report also looks at costs for child-related expenses such as school trips, clothes and sporting activities which have risen by 6.9% over the past year. Compare this with the fall in family incomes estimated at 2% between May and August this year - and the strain on family budgets is very clear. This report goes on to give some more data about the burden of unsecured debt and the measures government is taking to try to make working a more affordable option for families, which will be useful when looking at government intervention to deal with the poverty trap and the distribution of income.
So says Stephanie Flanders, in this broadcast from the Today programme in which she explores whether or not the growth in employment this week is a good thing. The key, of course, is productivity and the economy’s capacity to grow, and therefore to recover. She explains the interrelationship between manpower and output with her usual clarity,with a brief reference to both sides of the issue, and to the short term and long term consequences of the recent rise in private sector employment - thus giving an ideal essay plan!. This is such a key concept in AS macroeconomics (and A2 as well) that I think this two-and-a-half minute piece is well worth saving and using with new groups of economists next term.
How quickly do people find new work after they have been made redundant and experienced a period of unemployment?
According to new research published in the May 2011 edition of the Economic Journal, only around one person in every ten unemployed in Britain finds fresh work within a month and nearly half of the extra unemployed created in the wake of an economic shock such as the fallout from the global financial crisis are still without a new job after six months.
If government economic policies and the labour market generally are failing to get people back into paid jobs the impact of a recession on unemployment rates can last for a substantial time period bringing with it increased economic and social costs.read more...»