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Discussion and analysis of the latest economic issues.

By Sean O'Grady, Economics Editor of The Independent.

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Unemployment down. Good news. Well, yes, and the figures are much better than were hoped for. They're a big political bonus boost for ministers who feared fighting an election with unemployment steeply rising and desperate headlines about dole queues; "Labour Isn’t Working" and all that.

There's a also a Budget bonus, as lower unemployment spending means Mr Darling will have a touch more room for manoeuvre next week.

But there are some darker signs. Long term unemployment is sharply up, reflecting the big rises a year ago; but its the number of jobs in the economy that is most worrying, falling off to a decade low and with more and more workers casualised or simply giving up on the jobs market. We are becoming a nation of two classes of worker; those in old fashioned permanent contracts, maybe even with proper pensions; and a part time, temping, casualised, marginalised rump.

The country that emerges from this recession will look very different.


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