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“As we emerge from the pandemic, one of my key priorities is jobs, jobs, jobs. And despite the challenges of the last two years, unemployment is down and employment is up, and there are 662,000 more employees on company payrolls and earning more money than before the pandemic.”

In a video posted on Twitter by the Department for Work and Pensions, minister Thérèse Coffey claims that, despite the “challenges of the past two years”, unemployment is down, employment is up, and there are 662,000 more people on company payrolls.

It’s wrong to claim that employment has increased.

The number of people in employment actually fell by 580,000 between the three months to February 2020 and the three months to January 2022. In the same period, the employment rate (the proportion of people aged 16 to 64 who are in work) fell by 1 percentage point to 75.6%.

While the number of employees has grown, the number of self-employed people has fallen by around 800,000. Suggesting that the employee figure (which has risen) is the total employment figure, masks this fall. 

Full Fact has repeatedly written about this false claim which has been made by Boris Johnson and other ministers.

Mr Johnson in particular has presented data on the number of payrolled workers (employees) as the total number of people in work on several occasions.

The Office for Statistics Regulation has written to the Prime Minister’s office saying “it was disappointing that some earlier statements continued to refer to payroll employment as if describing total employment, despite contact from our office and from others.” 

Of the other claims made in the video, it’s true that unemployment is down, having fallen by 28,000 (0.1 percentage points), between December 2019 to February 2020 and November 2021 to January 2022 (the latest data).  

The unemployment rate is the proportion of the labour force (those in work plus those seeking and available to work) who are unemployed.

It’s also true that the number of people on company payrolls is up, rising by 662,000 (2.3%) between February 2020 and February 2022, as the video claims.

Finally, employee average earnings, in real terms (adjusted for inflation) are also up compared to before the pandemic, though have been broadly flat for around a year. 

Image courtesy of Chris McAndrew


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