Inflation is now at 5.2% (RPI), meanwhile, wages have risen by 2.8% on average, meaning a real terms pay cut of 2.4% – and to be honest, I don’t know anyone whose wages have risen, most are facing pay freezes (or for local council workers, pay cuts).
Unemployment rose by 80,000 in the past 3 months, taking the total to 2.51million, a rate of 7.9%. Youth unemployment has now topped 20% – and locally, the figures are even worse. Osborne claimed that the private sector would more than replace public sector job losses – but actually, the private sector is creating just 1 job for every 2.7 public sector jobs lost. For women, we now have the highest level of unemployment since 1988.
Taking the figures for the Birmingham parliamentary constituencies (which does not include Sutton Coldfield, Solihull or the black country), the unemployment rate is 8.2%, but again the average hides the reality, which is that some areas have far worse levels on unemployment than others, with Ladywood having an unemployment rate of 12.2%..
Even this does not tell the full story, as male unemployment is 16.7%, whilst female unemployment is 7.5% – This discrepancy is – I think – because there are many more women who are economically inactive but not claiming benefits, and this hides the true rate of unemployment. These figures only include benefit claimants.
It also will not include all those who are working part time because they are unable to find full time work.
(Source for local figures is the Guardian datablog)
I cannot find breakdown for youth unemployment in the West Midlands, but given the rate is 20% nationally, and Birmingham has some of the highest levels of unemployment in the UK, I think we can assume that locally the youth unemployment rate will be even higher than that – something which this government should be ashamed of, and a fact that should never be forgotten when asking why young people rioted in August.
With growth flattening, and estimates of future growth being revised downwards time and time again, the need for an alternative to the governments destructive and ideologically driven austerity measures becomes clearer and clearer. You can explore the alternatives on False Economy, or in our (far from complete) Alternatives to the Cuts series of posts.
For this reason, it is good news that the TUC has said there will be co-ordinated strike action by 14 public sector trade unions on 30th November. PCS, NUT, ATL and UCU already have ballots given authorisation for strike action, whilst 10 other unions – including Unison, Unite, GMB, Nasuwt and the FBU will ballot for strike action.
The ballot for strike action is over cuts to pensions, which will see public sector workers working longer and paying more to get less.
The aim of these pension cuts are to reduce the deficit – the extra money received will be used to pay off debt. These strikes are part of the wider struggle against the austerity policies of this government, and must be seen as such.
You can also come out to the demonstration on Sunday at the Liberal Democrat conference to join us calling for the alternative.
The economic figures that come out month after month show that this governments policies are failing, and we all need to get behind the public sector unions (whether we are public sector, private sector or workless) because we need an alternative, or we will all face harder and harder economic times.