Wandsworth JSA claims: The slope is gentle, but in the right direction

I’m not sure how much value these posts add, but being anally retentive continue to produce them (and update the data).

September saw another slight fall in the total number of Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) claims, 53 (0.9%) fewer people were signing on than in August, bringing the total down to 6,070. The drop against this time last year was 603 people (9.0%)

Still paying the price of recession: Claims are still significantly higher than their pre-recession low

The figures are not so bright when compared against the pre-recession low, when claims where under 4,000. At the moment claims are still 2,329 (50.0%) higher than pre-recession. Although it should be borne in mind that Wandsworth is still doing remarkably well compared to elsewhere, our claim rate is 2.8%, which compares favourably to rates of 4% and 3.5% for London and Great Britain respectively.

My usual posting of the Jobseekers Allowance claim figures for Wandsworth.

The line is starting to look a bit healthier. While the numbers claiming JSA are much higher than they were before the recession it is starting to look like there is a downward trend. In June there was a drop of 244 claims from May (3.7% down) bringing the total to 6,275. Interestingly, for the first time since the recession started the year-on-year comparison shows a reduction. There are 73 (1.1%) fewer people claiming JSA than there were in June 2009.
The graph for the duration of the recession doesn’t look quite as good. It’s clear that there’s still a long way to go, and obviously there has to be some pessimism as the effects of dealing with the deficit make themselves known.

The latest figures (which I’ve been a bit slow in posting) show a drop in claims for Jobseekers Allowance in Wandsworth.

While there are still nearly 3,000 more people (2,902 to be precise) claiming JSA than before the recession and 545 more than this time last year, the number has dropped by 181 (2.7%) since last month.

Of course the impact of the recession is likely to be long lasting; the impact on long-term unemployment is only just starting to show through and many have predicted a jobless recovering in which businesses recover but do not replace the staff they lost but at the moment is seems the rises in Wandsworth have stopped.

The news today was of a fall in unemployment. Paradoxically, underlying this is an increase in JSA claimants. I’ve often said that JSA claims and unemployment are not the same thing, since many choose not to claim Jobseekers Allowance for a variety of reasons; they might be able to live off their own means or just be too proud. And some have that choice made for them because they are not eligible.

In Wandsworth 6,789 people (a claim rate of 3.3%) were claiming JSA in January, this is 195 (3% higher) than the previous month and 1,966 (40.8% higher) than the same time last year. This wipes out all the falls since October and is only 25 off being the highest figure since the recession began.

One unfortunate outcome of the recession is the rise in longer term unemployment. This is a lagging indicator, since, obviously, you can’t immediately be long term unemployed, but you can start to see the curves moving upwards in the 6 month and 12 month plus lines.

Depressingly those six and twelve month lines are likely to continue moving upwards and even now they make up just over half of all the claims (3,460 over six month compared to 3,329 under six months).

The UK has finally left recession. As Gordon Brown repeatedly told us, we were one of the best placed economies to weather the storm – although quite how that tallies with being the last major economy to see growth and having the longest recession since current records began escapes me.

What is interesting to me, is how Jobseekers Allowance claims in Wandsworth appear (and I stress appear) to have followed economic growth. Previously there has been a lag, with unemployment increasing after the recession has ended. JSA is only a proxy for unemployment (many people who are unemployed choose not to claim, or are ineligible) but its recent plateau seems to mirror the plateau in the economy. Whether this is coincidence, or a sign that the nature of recessions has changed, remains to be seen.

It’s not a dynamic end to the recession – only 0.1% growth in the provisional estimate – but a positive sign.

There was an ever so slight fall in the number of Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) claims in Wandsworth last month with 47 fewer (a drop of 0.7% against last month) people signing on than in November.

A total 6,594 people were claiming JSA, a rate of 3.2%. This is an increase of 1,939 (41.7%) on the same time last year, although it’s worth noting that the recession was in full swing by then.

Wandsworth continues to perform well against London and the country as a whole.

Nationally the claim rate remains the same at 4.1%, but London wide the rate has dropped from 4.4% to 4.3%. The small fall in Wandsworth was not big enough to change the rate which remains at 3.2%.

What is interesting is how the rates seem to have plateaued for a few months now. In previous recessions unemployment (and therefore out-of-work benefit claims) has continued to rise for some time after the recession has ended as employers deal with the effects. Indeed, it may well continue to rise this time with people returning to benefit after season work has ended. Or it might just be that this recession is different. Only time will tell.

Earlier this week I did a little analysis on the number of Jobseekers Allowance claims in Wandsworth and pointed out that while claims seemed to have plateaued nationally the trend was still upwards in Wandsworth. This week saw a drop of 172 claims (or 2.5%) in Wandsworth that perhaps gives some hope we aren’t going to continue the rise.

Wandsworth JSA claims, Nov 08 - Nov 09

Claims are still up by 2,345 (or 54.6%) on this time last year. But the trend seems to be slowing (and maybe even reducing) and is holding up well against the London- and nation-wide rates.

JSA claim rates, Nov 08 - Nov 09

With the year drawing to a close, and hopefully the UK’s longest and deepest recession with it, I’ve spent a little time looking at how Wandsworth has coped.

I’ve repeatedly said that while Wandsworth isn’t immune to the effects of recession it is better placed than most to weather it.

The graphs below are various comparisons of Jobseekers Allowance claims. This isn’t a measure of unemployment (those figures aren’t produced for some months) since people can be unemployed without claiming JSA. And it isn’t the complete story; it ignores the take-up of other benefits and things like business failures or high street vacancies (Wandsworth has actually seen little change in these rates during the recession).

However, JSA can be a good indicator. So…

These graphs consider the period from January 2008 until October 2009, the represent (where appropriate) the highest rate in red, the lowest rate in green and Wandsworth in blue.

First up is a straight comparison between Wandsworth and the national rate of claims.

Wandsworth and national rate of JSA claims Jan 08 - Oct 09

A good story for Wandsworth. Overall the gap between the lines has increased. In January Wandsworth’s rate was 0.4% below the national rate, it’s now 0.8% – overall JSA claims have risen less here than nationally, there would be about 800 more people signing on if we’d followed the national trend.

However, the past few months seems to show the national figure on a plateau, while Wandsworth has still increased a little. This may be because people who have lost their jobs in Wandsworth (which has a high proportion of people working in the financial sector) have been living off their own means before signing on, but that is just conjecture, the figures will need watching for a few months to see if the trend continues.

Next is a comparison between Wandsworth and the highest and lowest inner London borough rates.

Wandsworth and the highest and lowest inner London borough JSA claim rates - Jan 08 - Oct 09

Again, I think a good story. Wandsworth (the blue line) has the second lowest rate (Kensington and Chelsea, the green line). While our performance against them has deteroriated, we’ve seen the gap between us and the worst affected borough open from a 3% to a 3.5% difference so, proportionately, we’ve not been hit as hard as other inner London areas. And having the second lowest rate after Kensington and Chelsea is no cause for shame.

Finally, a comparison within the borough. This needs a slight caveat; the rates are calculated against smaller populations (the difference between thousands in a ward compared to 100,000 to 200,000 in most boroughs) so the rates can fluctuate more. However, over the period it shows a fairly clear pattern.

Wandsworth lowest and highest ward JSA rates Jan 08 - Oct 09

The story here is not so good. While we haven’t been as badly affected as some parts of the country those differences are reflected within Wandsworth. Ideally the rate of change would be the same, indicating a borough that is relatively cohesive. However, the gap between highest rate (Latchmere, in Battersea) and bottom (Thamesfield, in Putney) has widened from 3.5% to 4.4%. This is not an ideal situation and suggests some parts of the borough, because of poor transport links, access to employment opportunities or education and training are suffering more than than other parts. Exactly why things like the Employment and Skills Partnership are needed to target public resources to address those imbalances.

Overall, I think my repeated comment that Wandsworth has not been hit as hard as elsewhere has been true. And even Wandsworth’s worse wards haven’t been affected as badly as, say, Tower Hamlets or Hackney. But it does bring home that just performing better than elsewhere is rarely a cause for complacency.

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 winner? The iconic Power Station building in Nine Elms
The winner? The iconic Power Station building in Nine Elms

This week was a story of two regenerations – with two very different results.

Recession kills off Roehampton regeneration
The bad news came for Roehampton. The Roehampton Regeneration had been moving slowly for several months while the planning application was developed and everyone was aware that the economic climate meant that rapid progress was unlikely. Unfortunately the recession has been record breaking – the longest this country has seen. And it is now apparent that even after the recession ends it will be some time until we would be able to find a developer who would make Roehampton a priority. It is a disappointing, but unavoidable, decision.

Nine Elms planning framework discussion starts
And as if to balance the bad news from Roehampton the other side of the borough saw the launch of the Mayor’s consultation on the Opportunity Area Planning Framework. It was a real boost for the area and represents huge ambition for Nine Elms. Perhaps best (and I failed to mention this in my original post) was the exemption of the area from the Crossrail level to enable investment in transport – especially a Northern Line extension.

Of course, as much of the work of the council will be about making sure the whole borough – including Roehampton – benefits from the good news in coming years.