Lies, damned lies, and statistics.

by Pseud O'Nym

Still got a lot on my plate, but this caught my eye this morning and well, it seemed rude not to comment on it.

The BBC – along with other media outlets I presume – trumpeted the news that

The number of employed people in the UK has risen again, to a new record number of 32.7 million people between November and January, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.
The 76.1% employment rate is the highest since records began in 1971.
ONS senior statistician Matt Hughes said: “The employment rate has reached a new record high, while the proportion of people who are neither working nor looking for a job – the so-called ‘economic inactivity rate’- is at a new record low.”
Employment Minister Alok Sharma said: “Today’s employment figures are further evidence of the strong economy the chancellor detailed in last week’s Spring Statement, showing how our pro-business policies are delivering record employment.”

Which on the face of it is good news, welcome as it is when this government is embroiled in a mess of its own making. But all is not what it seems. ‘Employment’ is, it seems, a ver elastic term, one is stretched to breaking point by the claim that employment is at its highest rate since 1971. Because, as the ONS helpfully clarifies

The number of people in employment in the UK is measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and consists of people aged 16 years and over who did one hour or more of paid work per week

In what universe is one hours work a week employment? If I had time, I might provide figures for the Tex Credits bill, which is, after all, a government subsidy for employee’s for the low  wages paid to them by their employers.

But I don’t.