“400,000 more jobs than pre-covid”

Mark Spencer, government Chief Whip, Twitter

January 11, 2022

Facts

While there are more payrolled employees than before the pandemic, the total number of people in paid work - including the self-employed - was below the levels seen just prior to the pandemic. This figure has fallen from 5 million just before the pandemic to 4.3 million as of the third quarter of 2021.

Data from the Office for National Statistics, which includes all people in paid work in the UK, shows that this number is still about half a million below the level just prior to the pandemic. It has gone from about 33 million between December 2019 and February 2020 to 32.5 million in the latest figures from July to September 2021. The proportion of working-age people in employment is also lower than it was in early 2020, falling from 76.6% to 75.4% in this period. 

Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation from the UK Statistics Authority wrote to Downing Street about this claim. He confirmed that "It is therefore incorrect to state that there were more people in work at the end of this period than the start."

For an excellent analysis, see FullFact. 

We approached Mark Spencer’s parliamentary office, the Cabinet Office and the Office of the House of Commons Leader (the job he now occupies: he was Chief Whip when he made the misleading tweet) to give him the chance to comment, but received no response.

Verdict

Mark Spencer was misleading his Twitter Followers. There were not 400,000 more jobs than before Covid. There were approximately 500,000 less. With this Tweet by Spencer, a pattern has emerged. Government ministers insouciantly issuing false information about employment figures in reckless disregard of the facts. It is striking that the wording of his tweet was identical to that of Attorney General Suella Braverman the same day.

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