"We now have 420,000 more people in employment than there were before the pandemic began."

Boris Johnson, Sky News

January 17, 2022

Facts

While there are more payrolled employees than before the pandemic, the total number of people in paid work - including the self-employed - is 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.

Other Ministers who have uttered similar false claims include Nadine DorriesSuella Braverman and Mark Spencer.

We approached Mr Johnson’s office, the Cabinet Office and the No 10 Press Office to give them a chance to comment, but received no response. 

Verdict 

This claim made by Boris Johnson was not simply false. It must be viewed as a lie. It is a serious matter to accuse someone of lying. It means that they have not just issued false information, but they have done so deliberately in the full knowledge that it is untrue. 

Johnson has made versions of this false claim repeatedly, both on the floor of the House of Commons and - as in this case - on television. So have his Cabinet colleagues. He has gone on making these claims despite being repeatedly warned they are completely false.

We have approached Mr Johnson’s office, the Cabinet Office and the No 10 Press Office to give him a chance to comment, but received no response.

So did the fact-checking organisation Full Fact. In a statement on 19th January Full Fact wrote that “We have contacted the Prime Minister, the Cabinet Secretary and Downing Street no fewer than six times asking the Prime Minister to correct the official record with regards to his previous statements. They have not taken the opportunity to do so.” 

Yet the Prime Minister and other cabinet ministers have blithely continued to repeat false statements about employment statistics. Mr Johnson was lying to viewers of Sky News when he told them "We now have 420,000 more people in employment than there were before the pandemic began."

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