We are now in the longest recession this country has suffered.

No political points. The recession continues, unemployment goes up.

Last month we saw a small drop in Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) claims, this month’s increase more than wipes out the drop.
Wandsworth JSA claims, Oct 08 to Oct 09
Overall there was an increase of 140 JSA claims this month, a 2.1% rise. There are now 6,813 people signing on, an increase of 2,768 (or 68.4%) over the year.

And that’s just in a year. We haven’t seen any growth in the economy since 2007. The increase in JSA claims since then is 82.1%. It’s hard to see the benefits of our economy being ‘well-placed’ for this recession.

The growth in unemployment slowed nationally, but in Wandsworth it fell slightly in September. Not much, just 43, but that’s still a fall!

Overall there were 6,673 people claiming Jobseekers Allowance in Wandsworth in September. A fall of 43 (0.6%) on the previous month. Of course that is dwarfed by the steady increase in previous months. The total is still some 2,711 (68.4%) higher than this time in 2008.
Wandsworth JSA claims, Sep 08 - Aug 09
Of course, small fluctuations are not much to get excited about, but so far they have tended to be favourable to Wandsworth. I’ll repeat my mantra: Wandsworth isn’t immune to recession, but is doing a lot better than many places during it.

As unemployment nationally rises to 2.47 million people the effects of the small dip in Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) claims in Wandsworth has been more than lost with subsequent rises.

In August there were 6,716 people claiming JSA in Wandsworth, an increase of 219 (or 3.4%) on the previous month and up 2,754 (or 69.5%) on August 2008. The graph shows a fairly consistent rise over the past year.

Wandsworth JSA claims, Aug 08 - Aug 09

I often point out that JSA and unemployment are not interchangeable. While everyone claiming JSA will be unemployed, it does not follow that everyone who is unemployed will claim JSA. To highlight the point nationally unemployment is 2.47 million, but JSA claims only 1.61 million – effectively there are 860,000 people choosing – for whatever reason – not to sign on.

It is difficult to make a similar comparison for Wandsworth, since the figures are not collected in the same way, instead unemployment for the whole year is calculated. However, to give an indication, unemployment for January to December 2008 (the most recent available) in Wandsworth is calculated at 9,600. The average of all the JSA claims for those 12 months was 3,939 – implying a significant proportion of Wandsworth residents were choosing not to register at their local job centre.

After last month’s small drop in Jobseekers Allowance claims the number rose again in July. However, the rise was small, and I will – again – say there is a lot to be positive about in Wandsworth. However, we cannot buck the trend entirely, so it was hoping a bit too much that we’d see another fall when the national backdrop is of continued rises.

The chart shows the climb, but apparent slowing, of JSA claims in Wandsworth between July 2008 and July 2009.
Wandsworth JSA claims, Jul 08 - Jul 09

The The Wandsworth total of JSA claimaints (people actively signing on as unemployed) was 6,497 (a rate of 3.1%). This is an increase of 149 people, or 2.3%, on the month. And an increase of 2,637, or 68.3%, on the year.

The number of claims for Jobseekers’ Allowance in Wandsworth dropped, very marginally, in June.  Given that the national news is reporting a record rise in unemployment, the fact we’ve had a small drop in claims has to be good news.
Wandsworth JSA claims Jun 08 - Jun 09

The fall was small, just 82, and there are caveats (these are people claiming benefit, which isn’t the totality of unemployment) but as I have said before there is reason to be confident in Wandsworth.

I’ve also put together this chart, which shows the rate of claims over the past year for Wandsworth, London and Great Britain.

JSA claim rates Jun 08 - Jun 09

It shows two things.  First, Wandsworth has a significantly lower rate of JSA claims than London or Great Britain as a whole.  Second, and most importantly, the gap has widened.  Last year Wandsworth’s rates were 0.8% and 0.4% below London’s and Great Britain’s rates respectively.  This had increased to 1.1% and 1.0% this June.

Again, I can add caveats, Wandsworth’s economy is a small part of the nation and will be affected by the national recession.  And because it’s small it can be more susceptible to large swings.  However, although I am pessimistic about the recession nationally, I remain confident that Wandsworth can weather the storm better than many other places.  We’ve created a dynamic economy here; we aren’t immune to recession, but we can fight it better.

The Wandsworth total of JSA claimaints (people actively signing on as unemployed) was 6,348 (a rate of 3.1%).  This is a drop of 82 people, or 1.3% (or a -1.3% increase, as Gordon Brown would probably call it) on the month.

The figures are still considerably higher than last year, 2,607 extra claimants, an increase of 69.7%.

Gordon Brown’s economic miracle doesn’t seem to show any sign of slowing.  My observation that the rate of increase seemed to have slowed last month was shown to be idle conjecture this month as the rate grew again.

JSA claimants May 08 - May 09

I will continue to say that Wandsworth seems to be weathering the recession better than most places.  There are a lot of reasons to be confident, indeed, part of my spot at Balham last Thursday was to highlight the reasons we should be positive in Wandsworth.  But that does not mean we aren’t being hit by the recession, nor does it make it any easier for those who are losing their jobs.

The Wandsworth total of Jobseekers Allowances claimaints (i.e. people who have signed on as unemployed, and excluding those who are unemployed but have chosen not to register) rose to 6,430 – a rate of 3.1%.  As I say every month, this still compares favourably to the London and national rates of 4.2% and 4.1% respectively.

The total was 341 higher than last month and 2,656 higher than this time last year, increases of 5.6% and 70.4% respectively.

The number of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) in Wandsworth broke through the 6,000 mark in April.

JSA claimants Apr 08 - Apr 09

The rate of increase was slower than previous months, not enough to say we’ve turned the corner, or even that we’re approaching the corner, but a smaller increase is good news nonetheless.

The total claiming JSA in April was 6,098, a rate of 3% which still compares favourably with the rates for London and nationally, both at 4.1%.

The total was 209 higher than last month and 2,390 higher than this time last year.  Increases of 3.5% and 64.5% respectively.

Unemployment claims nationally have hit 2,000,000 and if you follow this blog you’ll know I regularly report the JobSeeker’s Allowance JSA claims for Wandsworth.  The figures for February were released yesterday and showed a 13.6% jump from January.

JSA claimants Feb 08 - Feb 09

The increase means I’ve had to change the scale on the graph I was using (which only went to 5,000).  I’ve added 1,000 to the scale, but suspect it won’t last long.

In total 5,481 people were claiming JSA in Wandsworth in February.  This is an increase of 658 (13.6%) since January this year and an increase of 1,697 (44.8%) since February last year.  This figure contributes to a total 20,700 (10%) people who are claiming working age benefits in Wandsworth.

Gordon Brown still hasn’t said sorry.

It’s worth pointing out that unemployment and JSA claims are not the same thing.  You can be unemployed but, for whatever reason, not claim JSA.  The most recent total unemployment figures for Wandsworth are for June 2008 when 9,000 people were listed as unemployed but only 3,741 people were claiming JSA.

The January figures of Jobseekers Allowance claims have continued to rise.  January’s figures show an increase of 168 for the month, 1,082 for the year.

JSA claimants Jan 08 - Jan 09

It’s a fairly significant increase, although less than the previous month.

It’s worth bearing in mind that this is a total of Jobseekers Allowance claimants, those people who have registered as unemployment and been given Jobseekers Allowance.  The actual unemployment total is significantly higher.  Unemployment figures for boroughs are produced over six months after the period in question.  However, nationally the unemployment figure is 6.3%, whereas the national JSA claimant rate is just 3.4%.

While it the announcement that the UK is formally in a recession was expected, the size of the fall of GDP took many by surprise.  Three quarters have now passed since the UK economy grew, Q2 2008 saw the economy remain flat, to be followed by 0.6% and 1.5% contractions in Q3 and Q4.

And the effects have been felt in Wandsworth.  Jobseekers Allowance claims rose steeply in December 2008.JSA-claims-dec-2007-dec-2008Over the course of the year, from December 2007 to December 2008, Jobseekers Allowance claims rose by 937 (3,718 to 4,655).  The increase between November and December 2008 was 359 (4,296 – 4655).  However, Wandsworth can still claim some good news as it is still in a better position than London and the rest of the Britain; in Wandsworth 2.3% of residents claim JSA, compared to a rate of 3.2% and 3% for London and Britain respectively.