I had hoped to bring you news and a view on the latest jobs figures for construction, but a technical glitch (no more detail available from the press officer I quizzed) meant we will have to wait a further month before the data on construction jobs to March are released.
So as I had set aside some time to discuss the latest employment figures, what do we think of the broad numbers?
I was a bit disappointed to see the BBC reading (rapidly I must say) the data the way it did and suggesting unemployment was on the rise and up 23,000.
Because if we look at the data on a rolling three monthly basis the numbers suggest unemployment fell in three months to April compared with the three months to March by 28,000. And on that same basis employment has risen for two months in a row with 41,000 more people employed.
What’s more, the figures suggest that the state had already shed 7,000 public sector jobs in the first quarter of this year, so on the face of it the improved picture is down to a bounce back in the private sector.
I’m being a bit naughty there because 10,000 went from the “Other (including financial corporations)” column, which includes are state-owned banks.
Perhaps I should also point out that the growth in employment is from part-time work and self-employment. The numbers of full-time employees continues to fall.
But for those still obsessing over immigration, the employment figures split down by nationality (running up to March) show that foreign nationals are shedding jobs far faster than nationals.
If you want to get hot under the collar about foreigners stealing our jobs based on these figures, perhaps you should rail about the growth in workers from the USA. There was a near 50% rise in non-nationals from the USA employed in the UK in the year to March – no doubt a response to the financial market upswing.
Still, I suspect there is enough here for Alistair Darling to be arguing: “Look what we achieved with our response to the crisis, we now have rising employment and falling unemployment. You Mr Osborne will be putting that at risk.”
Let’s wait and see if he does say that.
But there is, lest we forget, the small matter of the public sector budget deficit. And, it is fair to say, that whoever took the reins after the General Election would make cuts which would threaten at least some jobs in the public sector and within firms heavily supported by public funds such as construction.
And here I suspect the picture when we see it next month will not really enlighten us that much. Because, while construction employment up to March was probably heading down, the real challenge is yet to come as the axe sinks into the public sector capital budget.
Oh there was on construction related revision: 1,000 more redundancies than previous estimated in the first quarter of 2010. But the good news is that there were 3,000 fewer in the months April to June last year.