19 July 2010
Unemployment then and now

In the early 1980s unemployment was concentrated in formerly industrial areas - former steel towns, former mining villages, those sort of places.  Although governments were careful to get rid of actual dole queues any television crew worth its salt could easily find a scene of decay to illustrate the problem.  Such scenes were endlessly repeated on the television with the result that unemployment became a huge political issue.

In the current depression it seems to me that unemployment is much more dispersed.  It is therefore harder to visualise and less likely to be such a huge political issue.

This is probably a good thing as it means that governments will be less scared of the inevitable increases in unemployment that will come when they start to introduce the right sorts of policies.

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  1. If you are right, and I strongly suspect you are, then unemployment is less of a problem for the politicians for another reason, which is that it is less of a problem for the unemployed themselves.

    Being fired along with everyone you know and work with, suddenly, must be a horrible experience, not just because of what you just lost (your old life) but because of the fact that you are now competing with several hundred mates and acquaintances for whatever crumbs of employment remain.  In such a world, political blowback, locally based, is very likely, because what else is there?

    It’s not just that current unemployment looks less bad on TV.  It actually is less bad.  If you are get the boot now, you live in an area where there are still quite a lot of jobs.  Okay, maybe not that nice jobs, but at least you aren’t competing with the entire workforce of the factory that fired you and everybody else there to get them.

    You could sum it up be referring to that famous piece of advice from Lord T: Get on your bike.  Now, long bike rides, to an entirely new life, are not so necessary.

    Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 19 July 2010 at 06:50pm

  2. Any way you can delete “are” from “If you are get the boot…”, para 3 of that?  If so, please do, and this also.

    Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 19 July 2010 at 06:51pm

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