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Food bank: Parents who have jobs are being forced to request food packages because their greedy employers don’t pay them enough. But we’re told employment – and wages – are rocketing.

Here’s another lie from Theresa May:

It’s the official figure – but it is also fake news in its claims about unemployment and wages.

The simple fact is that the official figure fails to take into account several important elements. For example:

And if unemployment is so low, why is in-work poverty so rampant?

The answer is that the actual number of people who are unemployed is four times the official figure – nearly nine million people. The number who are actively looking for work is between three and four times the official figure, for the following reasons:

The website Business Insider provides the supporting evidence.

In a nutshell, it argues that if unemployment was so low, and employment so high, then wages would be much better: “When unemployment gets that low it generally means that anyone who wants a job can have one. It also suggests that wages will start to rise. It becomes more difficult for crappy employers to keep their workers when those workers know they can move to nicer jobs. And workers can demand more money from a new employer when they move, or demand more money from their current employer for not moving.”

But that isn’t happening. “Wages in the private sector have not started to rise. Public-sector wage rises are capped at 1%. There has been a little uptick in new-hire rates, but the overall trend is flat. This is part of the proof that shows real unemployment can’t be just 4.5%… Workers’ real incomes are actually in decline.”

This must mean that employers are still able to get people who are willing to work for rock-bottom rates, and the only way that is possible is if there are more people looking for work than jobs available.

And this means that the methodology used to work out the number of people available for work is a fiction.

Business Insider again: “For decades, economists have agreed on an artificial definition of what unemployment means. Their argument is that people who are taking time off, or have given up looking for work, or work at home to look after their family, don’t count as part of the workforce. In the UK and the US, technical “full employment” has, as a rule of thumb, historically been placed at an unemployment rate of 5% to 6%.”

You’ll notice that the Conservative government in the UK has decided that people doing unpaid family work – carers – now do count as part of the workforce, even though they are paid nothing by employers. The full list of people the Tories count as employed is here, under heading 3.

And “full employment” includes anybody who works for an hour or more per week and gets paid for it. That’s not full employment; that’s under-employment.

So we see a fiction in which unemployment figures don’t include part-time workers who want full-time jobs, “inactive” workers alienated from the workforce, people who retire, students, or those who work in the home. Once you wrap all those people in, the number of jobless people is actually 21.5 per cent of the workforce, or around 8.83 million people, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Not all the inactive people actually want work – but there are plenty who do. Add them to the official figure and you get a “real-world” unemployment rate of around 14 per cent – three times the official rate. And we should also include as jobseekers the number of people who are under-employed – working part-time hours that aren’t enough for them. That gets us to between three and four times the official rate.

That’s why wages haven’t risen – because employers have access to a large number of people who are desperate for work.

And that is why Theresa May’s unemployment figure is a lie.

As for wages – take out inflation and this is what they’re doing:

The darker line signifies real wages – and they have plummeted. Note that historically wages have run roughly in line with unemployment – until 2016, when the Tories started making their big claims about falling unemployment. That’s the moment when it started to become possible to show up these claims as lies.

So:

  • Employment might be at 75+ per cent but this includes under-employment, with some people working as little as one hour per week.
  • Real-terms unemployment stands at more than three times the official rate, at more than 14 per cent.
  • And wages are not rising at their fastest pace in a decade. They have plummeted, creating a poverty crisis that the Tories have no intention of addressing; they will simply continue lying about it.

Those are the facts. Or perhaps you prefer this answer to the issue:

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