Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Hackney - a worklessness miracle?

Earlier this month the Office of National Statistics published Hackney's worklessness figures.

They weren't too bad - the unexplained miracle continues. The workless of Hackney still seem to be finding their way back to work at a surprising speed.

All this during a period when the rest of the country was on the brink of financial collapse with jobs being lost. In contrast, figures show that, in Hackney the population of economically inactive residents shrank. It fell by about 2,900 people (from 28.7% of the working population to 26.6%).

The recession, it seems, has had the opposite effect in Hackney as it has in most other parts of the UK. This seemed to be further confirmed by the publication, yesterday, of the workless households figures ( Work and worklessness among households Statistical Bulletin - August 2009 and 26/08/09 News Release - Half a million more working-age people in workless households).

These show that the North East has over-taken Inner London as the place with the highest rate of worklessness - it now has 23% of homes with all employment age residents out of work. Meanwhile Inner London's level of workless households is 22.9%, the second most concentrated are of household worklessness in the UK. This is down on the same time last year (Work and worklessness among households - August 2007 ) when 23.9% of Inner London homes were workless.

Nationally, the ONS figures for workless homes are the worst they have been - possibly since records began - showing that one in six UK households is unemployed - at least that's according to this interpretation provided by the BBC yesterday.

But not in Inner London, and it can only be supposed that Hackney has bucked the trend here too. Back in 2007 Hackney had the second worst level of workless households of all inner London Boroughs (26%). Worse than Newham (27%) and equal to Tower Hamlets (26%) and, unexpectedly, the next worst was Kensington and Chelsea (23%) - (That's according to (Table 2(iii) Working-age people by region and combined economic activity status of household)

So is Hackney like China? Powering ahead and "decoupling" from the rest of the developed world? Not according to Cllr Guy Nicholson, cabinet member for regeneration and the Olympic Games:

"In terms of Hackney’s economic development strategy, the borough has not ‘decoupled’ from the
UK’s, and specifically London’s economic direction of travel. Hackney Council will continue to ensure the growth and dynamism of a range of economic sectors within the borough. Key sector are:
Servicing for the City, High Value Manufacturing, Retail, Hospitality and Entertainment,Creative Sectors."

He said: "The recession has impacted upon Hackney in terms of an increase in JSA claimants. However, the borough has not been affected any more than the
UK as a whole. Since September 2008, the proportion of the population of Hackney claiming JSA increased by 1.7%, compared to an increase of 1.6% in Britain as a whole. However, Hackney started from a considerably higher baseline in terms of the proportion of the population already claiming JSA.

As discussed above, Hackney’s employment rate has increased significantly over the past few years. The gap between London’s and Hackney’s employment rate has decreased from 15.1% in Q4 05/06 to 3.4% in Q3 08/09. This is a significant achievement in the context of the high levels of multiple deprivation which continue to exist in Hackney. Due to the time-lag in the employment rate data, it is as yet unclear how the increase in JSA claimants will impact upon the employment rate in the borough."

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