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Huge rise in the claimant count as recession bites

Graham Watson

20th May 2020

The extent of the rise in unemployment as a result of coronavirus is reflected in data that in the first full month of lockdown, the claimant count measure of unemployment reached 2.1 million, a rise of over 850,000 in one month. Officially, unemployment is 1.35 million.

You can find the official unemployment data here from the ONS website

In the first place, this might prompt discussion about the difference between the two measures of unemployment and discussion about why the Labour Force Survey method has become the accepted measure of unemployment.

However, given that many are predicting unemployment of 10%, it mgiht also be used as a jumping off point for discussion of the costs of unemployment in both the short- and the long-term.

And as a companion piece, it's also worth looking at the following: the collapse in young people's earnings as a result of the crisis with one third of them reporting that earnings have fallen, and the young also at greatest risk of unemployment, principally because so many of them work in hospitality.

It's worth noting that this raises the very real possibility of hysteresis and this could, in turn, have longer term implications for the UK economy.

A quick snippet here from the chief economist of the Bank of England, Andy Haldane, who warns that we could be at risk of "returning to 80s levels of unemployment".

Of particular concern is unemployment among 16-24 year olds, which, heaven forbid, flags up the possibility of hysteresis.

Graham Watson

Graham Watson has taught Economics for over twenty years. He contributes to Tutor2U, reads voraciously and is interested in all aspects of Teaching and Learning.

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