While welcoming George Osborne’s emphasis this week on raising employment, I have some caveats about his target – to have the highest employment rate in the G7. This isn’t hugely challenging. Those in employment currently amount to 71.2 per cent of the UK population of working age, well ahead of Italy (55.5 per cent), France (64.1 per cent) and even the USA (67.4 per cent). Germany, at 73.5 per cent, is the current table-topper and the one Mr Osborne aims to overtake.
Aggregates like this, though, are dodgy to interpret and are affected by differences in age cohort size and other factors.
For example, the rising numbers of younger women in the workforce with degrees will almost certainly boost employment rates in the next few years, as will immigration flows and the increase in the state pension age.