Fake News should NOT be your main concern, it’s Junk News that you’re mainstreaming.
Tweets like the one above will merrily drop into your Twitter feed and come from ‘respected’ ‘news’ outlets that come with a reassuring blue tick. If you’re a government minister then they fair warm the cockles of whatever it is you have instead of a heart. Unemployment down, wages up, a better Britain working for ordinary working people. Lovely. But is that the story?
So far so good. Wages outgrowing inflation. Good stuff. The first three lines of the actual story though are these:
Employment is static and households to face a “squeeze” on spending in 2017.
That doesn’t sound nearly as rosy as either the BBC’s tweet or even the headline from that actual story. OK, so those are the first three sentences in the story, and this was the fourth:
So, since this time last year, about a quarter of a million immigrant workers came to the UK, increasing the UK’s non ‘domestic’ workforce to almost three and a half million. Now, I see that figure and I feel pretty good about 3.5million people contributing to the British economy and bolstering our workforce but I can also see how that figure could be hugely embarrassing to a government trying to make its bones as the anti-immigration party, especially since they’ve been in power since 2010.
So far, so not so good, what’s next?
The employment rate has remained static, unemployment has dropped, wage growth is actually subdued and has actually slowed since the preceding three months.
That sounds decidedly less chipper than the BBC’s tweet. In fact, as you read further into the actual story, things look worse:
Employment rate static, wage growth subdued and expected to fall.
I think unemployment figures are interesting. Seven thousand people’s lives have changed in these latest statistics and I think it would be interesting to know why/how. How many of that 7,000 have simply been sanctioned off of benefits? Employment figures don’t reflect those 7,000 people having been gainfully employed, so how are they surviving? Record numbers of people are in work but, as the BBC concedes, people working beyond retirement age is playing a role in that though, notably, the BBC haven’t identified how significant an impact they are having. And isn’t the explanation by the BBC a bit odd?
The employment rate is static, unemployment has fallen, employment doesn’t rise by the same amount that unemployment falls because thousands of people change circumstances and become employed, where they were not classified as unemployed, people are not leaving the workforce at the same rates because more people are working beyond retirement. That would suggest that the employment rate should rise higher than the drop in unemployment, if you follow the logic of the BBC’s own argument, but it isn’t, it isn’t even rising with the drop in unemployment, it’s static. Now I would be even more interested in those 7,000 people. Odd the BBC should choose to dismiss them and make a nonsensical argument about the employment rate.
Employment is static, wage growth has slowed, is subdued and is expected to fall. Households will face a spending ‘squeeze’ in 2017, and more people are having to work beyond retirement. At least unemployment is down. Right?
No. Even the headline figure in the BBC’s tweet is junk. That 7,000 figure could be anything from an 87,000 drop in the unemployment rate or it could be a 73,000 rise in the unemployment rate.