Osborne's next headache: rising unemployment

Unemployment is set to rise to 2.7m in 2013.

As the economy has sunk deeper into recession, the Conservatives have pointed to falling unemployment as proof that their strategy isn't failing on every count. But what few have noticed is that almost every forecaster expects joblessness to rise over the next year.

Today, the British Chambers of Commerce said that it expected unemployment to increase from 2.56 million (8%) in Q2 2012 to 2.75 million in Q4 2013, a net increase of 186,000. It cited the planned spending cuts (most of which have yet to be implemented), the lack of growth, and rising productivity as reasons why the jobless total will rise. Similarly, the CBI said that it expected unemployment to rise to 2.7 million next year, despite the likely return of the economy to growth (the reverse of the trend that has so confounded economists).

Both the BCC and the CBI expect unemployment to start falling after 2013 but a year of rising joblessness will make it even harder for George Osborne to tell anything resembling a good story.

Unemployment is expected to peak at 2.7m in 2013. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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The Brexit deal and all the other things Liam Fox finds “easiest in human history”

The international trade secretary is an experienced man. 

On the day of a report warning a no deal Brexit could result in prices rises, blocked ports and legal chaos, international trade secretary Liam Fox emerged to reassure the nation. 

He told BBC Radio 4: "If you think about it, the free trade agreement that we will have to come to with the European Union should be one of the easiest in human history.” 

Since his colleague, Brexit secretary David Davis, described Brexit negotiations as more complicated than the moon landings, this suggests we are truly lucky in the calibre of our top negotiating team. 

Just for clarification, here is the full Davis-Fox definition of easy:

Super easy: Tudor divorce

All Henry VIII had to do was break away from the Catholic Church, kickstart the Reformation, fuel religious wars in Europe, and he was married to his second wife. And his third, fourth, fifth and sixth. Plus the Henry VIII clauses are really handy for bypassing parliament in 2017.

Easy: Tea Act 1773

American colonialists were buying smuggled tea, when they could have bought East India tea instead. Luckily, the British Prime Minister Lord North, found a way to deal with the problem in a single bill. Sorted.

Bit tricky: Appeasement

So what if Neville Chamberlain had never been on an airplane before? It's hardly a moon landing. And he got peace in our time. Although he was forced to resign in 1940. Not quite as easy as he thought. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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