Less homes where no-one works

According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics, the number of jobless homes (where no-one is in work) has dropped by 182,000 since records began in 1996. This is the lowest percentage recorded.

Employment Minister Mark Hoban said: ‘it’s good news that the number of workless households has fallen by more than 425,000 since the Coalition took office.’ and ‘we are giving people the support they need to get a job and fulfil their aspirations of looking after themselves and their families.’

But a reduction in the number of households where no-one works does not necessarily mean that more people are in work.  The unemployment figures would suggest that there are but these two statistics have been conflated to create a sophist ‘fact’. 

Data without context is meaningless.  There are many possible explanations as to why the number of workless houses has decreased, such as perhaps:

  • The overall number of households has decreased and there has been a corresponding fall in the number of workless households
  • The definition of household has changed to include multiple tenancies in the same building
  • People who are unemployed have had to give up their accommodation and move back in with relatives one of which happens to be in work
  • As above but people are sharing property with others to whom they are not related
  • Retired people who have not been able to make ends meet have had to go back to work

I’m not saying that any of the above bullet points is true and I hope this announcement really is good news.  There are still about a quarter of all households in the North East however where no-one is in paid work.

We need to be vigilant.  Taking a single statistic and leaping to a single conclusion can be a very dangerous thing to do like taking a single toe and creating a dinosaur.

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