Figuring out the truth behind the jobless statistics

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics in March show a surprising decline in claimant count un-employment, with the figure falling by 32,300 month-on-month in February.

This followed a monthly increase of 5,300 in January which was also revised substantially downwards. So February showed the largest monthly fall in claimant count since November 1997 and brought the total number of unemployed by this measure to 1.59 million – 4.9% of the workforce.

Good news perhaps, but the total number of individuals employed in the country also fell by 54,000 in Q4 2009 compared with the quarter to October, and experts say that the apparent decline in unemployment is largely down to a rise in the number of economically inactive individuals.

These increased in number by 149,000 in the three months to January. Indeed, the number of students in the country rose by 98,000 in the quarter to January – the largest increase on record.