Friday, July 17, 2009

Are your customers still employed?

Yesterday gave us the latest snapshot of UK unemployment. It doesn’t make very good reading. The jobless rate is now 7.6%, the highest in more than 10 years.

You need to dig a bit deeper than the headline figures to understand what is really going on.

  • 29 million are still employed, down 269,000 from the three months to February 2009 and down 543,000 on a year earlier (i.e. on the year we have lost around 2% of the workforce).
  • The split of people in full-time employment is 13.68 million men and 7.79 million women.
  • Those in part-time employment splits 1.88 million men and 5.65 million women.
  • Government employs 6.02 million people, up 15,000 from December 2008. Those who pay the wages of state workers (those in private sector employment) are 23.09 million, down 286,000.These figures hide the real scale of state employment since there are many indirect jobs that are dependant on Government funding.
  • The number of UK born people in was 25.28 million, down 451,000 from the three months to March 2008. The number of non-UK born people in employment was 3.81 million, up 129,000 for the same period.
  • Unemployment for 18 to 24 year olds is 726,000, up 95,000 from the three months to February 2009.
So what does this mean to marketers?

The young are having a really bad time of it. If you are dependant on Yoof spending then be afraid.

Government employees are doing well. Some would say at the expense of those in the private sector. If there is anyway you can target public sector workers, do it. In the longer term public sector employment will be decimated but right now it is growing. Don’t forget state employees are paid far better pensions than those in the private sector so they are ideal consumers to acquire for the longer term.

People not employed in the UK are doing pretty well, both at getting and keeping their jobs. Targeting ethnic markets looks like a winner.

The employment stats make no mention about what is happening with 50-plus employment. Previous data suggest that it is holding up reasonably well, however, when older people lose their job then getting another is extremely difficult. One explanation for the resilience of the older group of employees is the reluctance of companies to enforce retirement policies because of the precarious state of their pension provisions. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: 'Unlike in earlier recessions, companies are worried about pension liabilities, so they are not shipping (older workers) off into retirement. Dick Stroud

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