The small fall in this month’s jobless total masks a new employment regime dominated by insecurity and falling living standards, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Wednesday 14 August).
With youth unemployment up by 15,000 to inch closer to one million, the union is calling on David Cameron and George Osborne to take urgent action to prevent the nation's young talents being lost for a generation.
Unite warned against premature claims of recovery by Number 10 as the jobs market remains dominated by insecure, low-waged employment coupled with a real fall in wages since the coalition came to power in May 2010.
Unite also said that real earnings, outside of the boardroom, lag at 1.1 per cent, badly behind the RPI inflation rate of 3.1 per cent. Jumps in the cost of living have more than swallowed up meagre pay rises, with fuel bills now averaging £1,500 annually and some rail fares could rise by up to nine per cent.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “The small fall in the jobless total of 4,000 is to be welcomed, but this figure hides a lost generation of young people being consigned to the dole queue.
“There can be no crowing and champagne cork popping in Downing Street. It is too soon to start proclaiming 'recovery' especially given that youth unemployment, for those aged 16-24, increased by 15,000 to 973,000 and the working world is now pockmarked by low-waged, insecure employment.
"A housing bubble in the capital does nothing for the wider economy. One million workers are on miserable zero hours contracts that put people into grinding financial limbo, unable to plan for their week let alone their future.
“Living standards for millions are falling dramatically as energy, food and transport costs soar and wages lag way behind inflation.
“Britain's people deserve better than this. We need the creation of more ‘real’ jobs paying decent wages; more help to get our young talents off the dole queues and the long term unemployed back to into work; and an economic policy that pumps demand into the economy.
“A first step in helping the low paid is an immediate increase in the national minimum wage of £1.50 an hour. Companies are awash with cash mountains and could well afford such a rise. UK corporations made profits of £82.8 billion in the first quarter of this year - let's get that money out of safes and into our high streets where it is needed.”
Unite points out that an estimated million workers are on zero contracts; TUC research that showed almost half the rise in employment since 2010 has been temporary; and figures collated by the House of Commons library revealed that average hourly wages have plunged 5.5 per cent in real terms, again, since 2010.
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.