The Chancellor needs to get his facts straight

It's hours of work that matter. Fewer hours means less income.

In response to the labour market data released today, the Chancellor is reported as saying: "There is some good news, that employment -- in other words, people in work -- that number is still going up. We are creating jobs in this economy, as well as jobs being lost."

That is very far from the real story. Total employment, measured by a count of heads over the past year, has indeed increased by 250,000. The real count of how much work is being done in the economy, however, has fallen sharply.

That is because people are working fewer hours per week than in the past. It is hours of work that matter -- fewer hours means lower incomes and that is why spending is down.

Here are the numbers published today from table seven of the Office for National Statistics data release:


It is clear that there has been a decline in total hours worked over the past year -- 6.9 million hours to be precise, mostly among full-time workers.

So if we divide the lost hours worked of 6.9 million by average hours of 36.6 we find that the coalition has killed off the equivalent of just over 188,500 full time jobs.

The Chancellor needs to get his facts straight. The coalition has destroyed the equivalent of nearly 200,000 jobs.

What he should have said was: "There is some really bad news. Total hours worked is falling fast -- we are destroying jobs in this economy. My policy is in disarray."

The truth hurts.

David Blanchflower is economics editor of the New Statesman and professor of economics at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire

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“Trembling, shaking / Oh, my heart is aching”: the EU out campaign song will give you chills

But not in a good way.

You know the story. Some old guys with vague dreams of empire want Britain to leave the European Union. They’ve been kicking up such a big fuss over the past few years that the government is letting the public decide.

And what is it that sways a largely politically indifferent electorate? Strikes hope in their hearts for a mildly less bureaucratic yet dangerously human rights-free future? An anthem, of course!

Originally by Carly You’re so Vain Simon, this is the song the Leave.EU campaign (Nigel Farage’s chosen group) has chosen. It is performed by the singer Antonia Suñer, for whom freedom from the technofederalists couldn’t come any suñer.

Here are the lyrics, of which your mole has done a close reading. But essentially it’s just nature imagery with fascist undertones and some heartburn.

"Let the river run

"Let all the dreamers

"Wake the nation.

"Come, the new Jerusalem."

Don’t use a river metaphor in anything political, unless you actively want to evoke Enoch Powell. Also, Jerusalem? That’s a bit... strong, isn’t it? Heavy connotations of being a little bit too Englandy.

"Silver cities rise,

"The morning lights,

"The streets that meet them,

"And sirens call them on

"With a song."

Sirens and streets. Doesn’t sound like a wholly un-authoritarian view of the UK’s EU-free future to me.

"It’s asking for the taking,

"Trembling, shaking,

"Oh, my heart is aching."

A reference to the elderly nature of many of the UK’s eurosceptics, perhaps?

"We’re coming to the edge,

"Running on the water,

"Coming through the fog,

"Your sons and daughters."

I feel like this is something to do with the hosepipe ban.

"We the great and small,

"Stand on a star,

"And blaze a trail of desire,

"Through the dark’ning dawn."

Everyone will have to speak this kind of English in the new Jerusalem, m'lady, oft with shorten’d words which will leave you feeling cringéd.

"It’s asking for the taking.

"Come run with me now,

"The sky is the colour of blue,

"You’ve never even seen,

"In the eyes of your lover."

I think this means: no one has ever loved anyone with the same colour eyes as the EU flag.

I'm a mole, innit.