HC Deb 19 February 1980 vol 979 cc125-7W
29. Mr. Flannery

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the latest figure for unemployment; and what were the corresponding figures for 1979 and 1978.

Mr. Jim Lester

At 10 January 1980 the number of people registered as unemployed in Great Britain was 1,404,389, compared with 1,484,687 at January 1978 and 1,391,220 at January 1979. Because of the introduction, in September 1979, of fortnightly attendance and payment of benefit, the figure for January 1980 is not strictly comparable with the figures for the earlier years. It is estimated that the unemployment figure for Great Britain is about 22,000 higher than it would have been under weekly attendance.

The figures of those unemployed, seasonally adjusted and excluding school leavers, are not affected by this factor and are comparable. They are:

January 1978 1,363,300
January 1979 1,282,800
January 1980 1,277,400

44. Mr. Austin Mitchell

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is his estimate of the level of unemployment for 1980–81.

Mr. Jim Lester

Forecasts of unemployment are subject to such large margins of error that no useful purpose would be served by attempting to produce one even for 1980–81. However, it is clear that short-term prospects are gloomy. The best hope of reducing the impact of unemployment lies in both sides of industry combining to improve productivity, and hence competitiveness, and to bargain responsibility over pay and conditions.

Mr. Ralph Howell

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what percentage, and how many, of those unemployed for more than one year live in areas where unemployment is less than 5 per cent. and where registered vacancies during the past year have averaged 20 per cent. or more of the total number of registered unemployed.

Mr. Jim Lester

Information for small areas could be extracted at disproportionate cost and the following information relate to counties.

In January 1980, out of the 66 counties in Great Britain, 21 had unemployment rates of less than 5 per cent. Of these, vacancies at all employment offices in the county were 20 per cent. or more of the corresponding numbers unemignored in this calculation. Vacancies notified to employment offices are estimated to be about one-third of all vacancies in the country as a whole. Out of a total of 335,128 people in Great Britain who had been unemployed for more than 52 weeks, 59,666–17.8 per cent—were registered in these 17 counties.

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