‘The jobless figures do not add up’

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AN MP has demanded the Government changes the way they calculate jobless figures after a new report shows unemployment is worse in East Durham than claimed by the Government.

The call comes from Easington MP Grahame Morris after the Real Level of Unemployment in 2012 report by the Centre for Regional, Economic and Social Research claims the actual level of unemployment in the UK is more than 3.4m.

This compares to just 1.5m on the Government’s official claimant count, and 2.5m according to the Labour Force Survey.

The difference is attributable to extensive hidden unemployment – with an estimated 900,000 people being diverted onto incapacity benefits instead of unemployment benefits, and are therefore not reflected in the Government’s unemployment figures.

Hidden unemployment is disproportionately concentrated in the weakest local economies, where claimant unemployment is already highest.

The effect has been to mask the true scale of labour market disparities between the best and worst parts of the country.

In Easington, the Government’s official claimant count for April 2012 was 3,780, but including the hidden unemployed, the report suggests the true figure to be 9,900 or 16.3 per cent of the working age population.

Mr Morris said: “For months I have being calling on the Prime Minister to visit East Durham and see first-hand the escalating job crisis caused by the Coalition Government’s policies of austerity.

“It is the North-East being hit the hardest again.

“Wage freezes, job losses, changes to welfare, and public sector cuts are driving demand out of the local economy.

“David Cameron’s private sector-led recovery is failing to materialise, especially in former heavy industrial areas such as Easington.

“The new report shows that Easington has the fifth highest unemployment rate in the country at 16.3 percent of the working population.

“The Coalition Government is failing a new generation in East Durham.

“In the 80s the Tories closed our industries, made thousands of workers redundant and created long-term unemployment in hard working communities.

“Today, they are failing to invest in our young people, failing to support our business community, and are cutting public services.

“It is time for change. We need a real alternative and an end to the policies of austerity which are proving to be counter-productive and damaging to families and the economy.”