The labour market outlook is getting worse. As David Blanchflower predicts 2m unemployed by Christmas (it's currently 1.67m), the ONS tell us that 3 million families are now living in jobless households. But as Ministers like to remind us, lots more people - about 400k - are in work this year, compared to last year.
Overall, the UK's employment rate is about 75% - the Government would like to increase that to 80% by 2020. But get this - only 71.6% of London residents are currently in work, even though the capital generates loads of jobs. (PS It wasn't always like this - between 1985-90, London's employment rate was actually higher than the UK rate.)
So why is London's employment rate so much lower than the UK rate? A recent GLA Economics report explains that the gap is mainly due to much higher growth in the working-age population in London over the period 1995-2006 (11% versus 4%), but employment growth has not been sufficient to keep up. Also, the employment rate for women in London was 7% lower than the rest of the UK in 2006, while the gap between UK and London male employment rates has been relatively small and stable since the mid 1990s.
This highlights the need for tailored, city-level approaches to tackling worklessness and increasing employment. With its relatively low female employment rate, London should be focusing particular attention on helping mums that want to work, for example. This should be a top priority for the new London Skills & Employment Board, chaired by Mayor Boris.
We want all big city-regions like Greater Manchester to have their own Skills & Employment Board, with powers to use devolved training and employment budgets to address their own unique labour market problems.
PS The excellent GLA Economics has also just published a slightly different report called Building Bridges: Some lessons from the Middle Ages on the long-term economic impact of bridges over the Thames. It's a fascinating read, and clearly the best report title this year. Give it a read, and find out more about the success of London Bridge and other bridges. It even quotes a bit of medieval poetry - and Boris will be pleased by the reference to Henley Bridge, first built in 1232. Serious point - the report aims to beef up the case for the proposed new Thames Gateway Bridge - which was deferred by the Government last year.