Ahead of his PMQs debut, George Osborne is boosted by the news that unemployment is down again. As the chart above shows, the government’s jobs miracle continues with just over 31 million now in work. Between February and April this year, unemployment fell by 43,000 to 1.81 million. With inflation low and pay packets growing, the declining cost of living, the government is feeling vindicated with its economic plan. Employment minister Priti Patel said this morning:
‘Today's figures confirm that our long-term economic plan is already starting to deliver a better, more prosperous future for the whole of the country, with wages rising, more people finding jobs and more women in work than ever before.’
With the continual rise of employment, Labour is stuck with very little to say. Stephen Timms, the shadow work and pensions secretary, welcomed the figures and took a swipe about young unemployment:
‘The fall in overall unemployment is welcome, but with more than 740,000 young people unemployed it’s clear the government needs to do far more to give young people the chance to earn a living.
‘Ministers are failing to ensure young people get the best start in life. Last year the number of under 25-year-olds starting an apprenticeship fell. It’s time for ministers to give young people the world-class apprenticeships and training they need to succeed in life’
But there is also some movement over youth unemployment: the number of 18-24 year olds who out of work is down ever so slightly since the last quarter, but it's also down 13 per cent year on year — from 675k in February 2014 to 585k this year. Labour might struggle to make hay out of this in the Commons.