Thursday, May 08, 2008

Bad news

That is the only way to describe this morning's Household Labour Force Survey figures. Yes, the economy is heading south, but 29,000 jobs disappearing in a quarter? That's a pretty big move. Digging into the figures, the interesting point is that unemployment rose by only 4,000, so 85% of those whose jobs disappeared simply left the labour force. Sure, some went into study (the number in formal education was up by around 5,000 people on December, but down by twice that on last year), but just packed up and went home to spend their time on better things. So much for the government's grand effort to increase participation rates.

The government is trying to put a brave face on it, and they have a point: unemployment is still very, very low by historical standards (any 90's government would have wet themselves at the thought of only 3.6% unemployment). But its heading in the wrong direction, and that can't be good news for a government seeking re-election.