Further reflections on hidden unemployment: An examination of the off-flows from the claimant count in the North West of England
One of the most significant set of papers to come out of the portfolio of Regional Studies Association publications in recent years has concerned the exposure of the levels of hidden unemployment in many of the old industrial areas of Britain (see, for instance: 'Labour market adjustment in areas of chronic industrial decline: the case of the UK coalfields', Regional Studies 30 (7), 1997, 627-640). The authors of these papers, Christina Beatty and Stephen Fothergill, have generated a debate that has uncovered major implications for the way the regional problem is measured, perceived and tackled. Although these are important in terms of regional economic development strategies and policies, it remains to be seen how the failure to count the real levels of unemployment will impact on the review of regional policy Assisted Areas, the designation of European Structural Fund areas and the successful introduction of such initiatives as the New Deal and Welfare to Work. Underpinning and deepening the rigour of this approach to understanding the nature of the regional problem, in recent conferences of the Regional Studies Association Ross MacKay and others have been at the forefront of developing the intellectual treatment of this uniquely UK issue: the cataloguing of many of the long term unemployed as long term sick. In this issue of Debates and Reviews , Anne Green and John Sutherland build upon the work of Ross MacKay (in particular, his paper 'Work and non-work: a more difficult labour market', presented to the European Urban and Regional Research Network (EURRN) Regional Frontiers conference in Frankfurt Oder in September 1997) by considering a number of new dimensions of this area of research. Anne Green seeks to explore insights into unemployment and nonemployment in Europe using alternative measures, based on widely accepted definitions and data sets. In the second paper, John Sutherland reflects on the routes off the unemployment register in a particular but typical region. Together these contributions to the ongoing debate on the future of the welfare state and forms of state intervention raise significant questions for the range of policies and programmes currently being pursued in the UK. Given the ways and channels along which such approaches tend to be transferred within Europe, the relevance of the British treatment of those not in work within the state benefits system to the rest of the continent is pertinent. How the redundant miners of Poland or Germany, for example, are dealt with by their authorities may have profound implications for the balance of funding within and between countries in the European Union sphere.
Volume (Year): 33 (1999)
Issue (Month): 5 ()
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