This election will, in large part, be fought on the government saying “the economy was in rag order, we fixed it, reelect us”. A key element of this will be “we have created <insert large but not implausible number> jobs since we took over”. Missing will be any discussion of external circumstances but hey, its an election.
What is the real story?
First, the total. Below is the total employed in all sectors since 1998. All data are from the CSO QNHS databank.
Employment in Q2 1998 was 1.48m. Total employment peaked in Q3 2007 at 2.17m. By the time the election happened in Q1 2011 it was down to 1.84m. In Q3 2015 (latest data) it stood at 1.98m. Shaded is the government term. So in the FF era we saw an overall increase of just under 400k, or about 160k per government term. In this period we see about the same.
Where are they and where did they go? Different sectors peaked at different times. However, for illustration, lets keep the Q3 2007 peak as our benchmark. The calamitous construction collapse is clear; what is perhaps less well understood is that across the board since taking office the government have had growth in pretty much every area (apart from education….the smart knowledge economy and all that). . Call it luck, call it good management, call it both, but it is a fact.
Next, structural changes in more detail. To make the graph (a tiny bit less in)comprehensible I have taken annual, not quarterly, changes.
Finally, where are the jobs? Where were they?