The latest ONS figures for graduate employment do not make for pleasant reading. Particularly for those of us expecting to finish their current degrees this year (like myself). For the most recent graduates (0-2 years) the unemployment rate was up to 20% in the third quarter of 2010. Given the dip in the economy in the fourth quarter we can only expect that to increase once that quarter’s figures come out later in the year.
Graduate Unemployment
The rate is now almost double its pre-recession level of 10.6%. And what’s worse, the rate is increasing faster than for the workforce overall. Before the recession the unemployment rate among recent graduates was twice that of the UK as a whole. Now it’s 2.3 times higher.

But if that all sounds like a degree might not be worth much right now, the rates for young people without degrees are even worse. 27% of economically active 18-20 year olds are now unemployed. While for those between 21 and 24 the unemployment rate for those with degrees is 13.4% and for those without 16%.
Youth Unemployment Rates
And speaking of those GDP figures (out the previous day) I’m sure by now we’ve all seen the headlines – a 0.5% decrease, ‘flattish’ even if we strip out the inclement weather. What you may not have seen, though, are the comparisons with previous recessions the ONS also released and some of the breakdown of the overall job figures.

So first up here’s a graph of GDP since 2008, and for comparison the equivalent graphs for the 90/91 and 80/81 recessions.
GDP Comparisons wit Previous Recessions
The graphs have been normalised to start at the same baseline. That dark line at the bottom is our current economy. As you no doubt know, this recession has been much deeper than any we’ve been through recently and it’s taking us longer not only to get out of recession but to get back to where we were before. In each of the previous two recessions it took just over 3 years to regain our pre-recession levels. Clearly we’re still far from that position now and with the dip last year and a massive programme of austerity and VAT rises coming up this year it’s hard to see us recovering any time soon.

There was mixed news on the job front overall this week. Employment numbers were up, 167,000, in quarter 3 of 2010. That sounds good. But again we need to look past the headlines to the detail. As I pointed out last year even where we are seeing new jobs, they’re very often part-time or temporary. Look at this graph.
Employement Figures
Full-time employment continued to fall well past the official end of the recession and has made very little recovery since, staying almost flat till the end of last year. Part-time employment, however, has increased precipitously, and that’s where almost all the growth in overall employment came from last year.

In fact, in the latest figures the number of permanent employees fell by 0.2% and the number of temporary employees rose 9% year on year. So when you hear that, despite the depth of our recession, employment has held up better than in 90/91 or 80/81, which it has overall, remember that what’s really happened is that we’ve switched from full-time permanent jobs to part-time and temporary work.

All graphs courtesy of the Office of National Statistics

About Alasdair Thompson

Alasdair co-founded Bright Green Scotland in 2009.