Magazine article Public Finance

Numbers Game

Magazine article Public Finance

Numbers Game

Article excerpt

There were small signs of a recovery in the economy in April with the unemployment figure falling by 35,000 to stand at 2,650,000 over the three months to February 2012.

This was the first quarterly fall in the jobless number since the three months to May 2011. Employment minister Chris Grayling described it as a 'step in the right direction' and said that more people were coming back into the workplace.

His analysis is accurate but reflects an increase in part-time working. The number of full-time jobs actually fell by 27,000 over the quarter. Significantly, there are now 1.4 million part-time workers who would prefer a full-time job, the highest level since records began.

It was thought that falling inflation would be a boost to the economy, but March registered a disappointing increase in the Consumer Prices Index to 3.5%.

Bank of England deputy governor Paul Tucker suggested that inflation 'might remain above 3% throughout the second quarter of this year, and possibly into the second half of the year*.

It seems that any improvement in the UK economy is likely to be slow and insubstantial. …

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