Downward Mobility

In my Observer column I point out that the government may make inflation forecasts and debt forecasts but not unemployment forecasts. Well, just imagine if one of those were to leak out now! However with a little digging you can work out what the government is thinking, and it is not happy thoughts.

As I point out

“[The government] plans to intervene directly and create a minimum of 100,000 jobs for young people who have been out of work for more than a year via its Future Jobs Fund. However admirable the government’s break with supply-side economics is, the assumptions behind it are breathtaking. At the last count, the Department for Work and Pensions said that a mere 7,100 18- to 24-year-olds had been unemployed for one year or longer. Now ministers are quietly predicting that long-term youth unemployment will increase 14-fold.

Obviously, you cannot speculate that long-term adult unemployment will increase by 1,400%, as recessions hit the young disproportionately hard. Equally obviously, the worst of this recession is not over but just beginning.”

Martin Bright at the Spectator picks up on this and offers a vignette. 

I sat next to someone on the tube this week and had the sort of conversation I used to have in the late 1980s. I’d met him a couple of times before at the sort of social-political occasions where one’s status in society is assumed. ”How’s things, I said. “Well, I’m between jobs at the moment,” he said. “I’m doing some pro bono stuff. Helping people out. But it’s quite hard actually.” I remembered why I liked him: brutally frank. No pretence. It was unusual because he was so candid about his situation, but it was not the first time I’d had a similar conversation recently.

For years we have aruged about upward mobility and forgotten that social upheaval is usually produced by the downwardly mobile. The factory worker who has lost his job and home, the fired professional reduced to pretending to friends that he is now “consulting”. This is about to become a very angry country.

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