The sun hopefully seems to have his hat on vis-à-vis the British economy at the moment, as per the Office for National Statistics' latest batch of stats. My first encounter with this news though came via Eddie Mair's PM, and Eddie was rather niggardly with the sunshine.
These were the main bullet points from the ONS:
- Unemployment rate down from 6.9% to 6.8%
- Unemployment January-March down 133,000 to 2.2 million
- Employment up 283,000 in quarter, biggest increase since records began in 1971
- Claimant count at lowest since November 2008
- Pay including bonuses for January-March 2014 was 1.7% higher than a year earlier, with pay excluding bonuses 1.3% higher
- 140,000 Romanians and Bulgarians were in work in the UK in the three months after lifting of controls, down 4,000 on Q4 but up 28,000 on a year before
PM opted not to dwell on most of these but to concentrate instead on just two things: (a) "the scourge of youth unemployment" and (b) the row over Romanian and Bulgarian immigration.
The former was discussed with Ian Brinkley, chief economist of the Work Foundation think tank (and former chief economist of the TUC), who talked of a "missing generation" of unemployed youths. The latter was a debate between Atul Hatwal of Migration Matters (Eddie: "which describes itself as a cross party group calling for an honest debate on immigration") and Alp Mehmet of Migration Watch (Eddie: "a think tank calling for reduced levels of immigration to the UK").
All that was needed here was for Eddie to then burst our singing:
The sun is out, the sky is blue
There's not a cloud to spoil the view
But it's raining, raining on PM.
The ONS says clear today
They don't know youth unemployment hasn't gone away
And it's raining, raining on PM.
Oh, misery, misery
What's gonna become of the UK econo-me?