Opinion – “Misery Index” at lowest level since 1950s | Brookings Institution – John Gelmini

Dr. Alf is correct in his analysis and I would question this index on more fundamental grounds.

The Misery Index was conceived in the 1970s when inflation and unemployment figures were compiled differently and before the deliberate falsification of unemployment figures that has taken place in both the UK and America. UK unemployment is supposed to be 1.8 million but 2 million people who have registered businesses which have not traded and not made their directors a penny are counted as “self-employed”, 1 million people are in training schemes but in reality not working, 1 million people are NEETS (not in education, employment or training) but they are not counted as unemployed, 1/2 million people who are not working have been “sanctioned” by DWP jobcentre advisors but are not working, another 500,000 people who are redundant are in receipt of severance pay are ” deemed to be working” because they are in receipt of National Insurance contributions.

People who are on holiday are forced to sign off, those who are “waiting to hear about benefits” are not counted as unemployed even though they are not working and a further 11 million people who are too young to retire and too old to interest ageist employers are counted as either “economically discouraged ” or economically inactive.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation looks at this sort of thing in some detail but even they do not know the full extent of the numerical gerrymandering as it has been explained to me by several of the Governments “training for work” providers.

A further 2 million people on “Personal Independence Payments” (the successor to incapacity benefit and “Disability Living Allowance” are unable to work but not counted in the unemployment figures.

Thus, we have a situation where real unemployment and a fair amount of misery is airbrushed out of the figures without the explanations and footnotes that Dr. Alf will remember from his years of distinguished work as a Financial Director, Chartered Accountant and interim manager looking at Annual Reports and Accounts and preparing them to international standards capable of independent audit.

The real data is kept in something called the “Benefits Computer” and is accessed by Government Ministers and top civil servants but never made public for obvious reasons.

America does not go to quite these lengths but also understates the true figures by making it harder for redundant executives, managers and workers to claim unemployment benefits in the first place.

John Gelmini

Opinion – New world of work: unease remains over German labour reforms – FT.com

This is an excellent subjective insight into Germany‘s labour practices since unification, published in the FT. It’s a must-read. Check it out!

via New world of work: unease remains over German labour reforms – FT.com.

Personally, I’m not sure if Germany’s ‘mini-jobbers’ are any different from their UK equivalents on ‘zero hours contracts’?

Germany believes that German practice is a good model for the rest of Europe, especially Southern Europe, where rigidities in the labor market are responsible for poor competitivity  and negative jobs growth.

Of course, if you speak to a long-term unemployed man in France, he will have a very different perspective. He will probably speak angrily about ‘Le Scam’. It seems that in France, the long-term unemployed are faced with questionable jobs, whereby the likes of branded fast food chains, post a rate per hour but expect much more. The unemployed must, of course, go for interviews in France to preserve their unemployment benefit.

With increasing globalization and spread of neoliberalism from the likes of the International Monetary Fund, we have Anglo-Saxon, especially North American, labor practices becoming more prevalent in Europe – the new European ‘gold standard’ is the ‘mini-jobber’.

Of course, if you are a potential employee, the perspective is reversed and you will hang on to your union protection and prevailing legal protection. There’s a world of difference between permanent jobs with protection, and the world of zero hours or mini-jobbers. Even in traditional jobs, final salary pensions are becoming a rarity, unless you work in the public sector. There’s still enormous protection in the public sector but with savage austerity, it’s not quite as cosy as it used to be, certainly not in the UK and many countries in Southern Europe.

The trends are clear. Because of technology and open markets, there will be fewer and fewer jobs, especially for those without professions or highly specialized skills. Even for the most qualified, the competition will become more and more intense. Also immigrants will be ready to undercut the locals, turning up the pressure.

Lucky you if you are fortunate enough to get started on a conventional career, but the chances are that it will be prematurely curtailed, leaving you high and dry.

It’s time to take control. On this blog, John Gelmini and I have repeatedly advised people to re-skill, de-risk and look at alternative options.

Thoughts?