Today's job statistics are, as usual, mixed — and even a touch confusing. Last month, the headline was that the unemployment had risen to 2.56 million. This month, we're told that it's risen again — to 2.52 million. How can both be right? Because the point of comparison is not the previous month, but the previous quarter. Still, the fall in employment and rise in unemployment is really last month's news, not this month's.
As ever, it's worth remembering the margin of error of all these estimates, which dwarfs the quarterly changes — so we don't actually know whether they rose, fell or stayed the same. But there are some trends that we can identify.
Earlier in the recovery, jobs growth was flattered by rising numbers of part-time and self-employed workers.