Osborne’s austerity drive cut 270,000 public sector jobs last year
George Osborne’s deficit-cutting austerity measures led to 270,000 job cuts in the public sector in 2011, official figures reveal.
The Office for National Statistics published its official assessment of employment in the public sector alongside Wednesday’s unemployment figures, which showed that Britain’s youth unemployment crisis has worsened.
In total, 270,000 public sector jobs were lost in 2011, reducing the total workforce to 5.94 million.
The civil service payroll shrank by almost 7% over the year, while 71,000 roles disappeared in education, and 31,000 in the National Health Service, the ONS said.
However, there is some evidence that the chancellor’s hope that private sector employment will soak up some of the jobs lost in government is starting to be fulfilled. In the three months to December, the public sector payroll declined by 37,000. In the same period, 45,000 jobs were created in the private sector.
Across the economy as a whole, the ONS said unemployment continued rising in the three months to January to hit its highest rate since 1995, but the pace of growth in joblessness has slowed.
The number of people out of work on the government’s preferred International Labour Organisation measure increased by 28,000, to hit 2.67 million, according to the ONS, while the unemployment rate rose to 8.4%. In the three months to December – the latest set of figures released – the increase in unemployment was 45,000.
The more timely claimant count measure of unemployment also rose: there were 1.61 million people claiming unemployment benefits in February, up 7,200 on a month earlier.
However, the ONS pointed out that the number of short-term claimants – those who have been receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance for less than six months – has been falling for eight successive months, to 910,000, with all the increase accounted for by rising longer-term unemployment.
The ONS also underlined the squeeze facing Britain’s struggling households, with pay growth sliding sharply. Average earnings including bonuses were 1.4% higher than a year ago in the three months to January, down 0.5 percentage points on the three months to December.
Unemployment among the under-25s – a group hit particularly hard by the weak labour market – has also continued to rise, the ONS said, with 1.04 million 16 to 24-year-olds unemployed in the three months to January. That took Britain’s youth unemployment rate to 22.5%, a record high since records began in 1992.
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