Most seats in the UK are projected to declare the winner between 2am and 5am in the general election held today. Labour leaning seats, which tend to be in urban areas and have lower turnout, are often the first to declare.

When the Conservative Liberal Democrat coalition took office in 2010 the majority of the public told pollsters that the economy was the most important issue facing the country. As the economy has recovered and the financial sector appeared more stable, it declined in importance in voters minds.

However, concern about the economy fell faster and further than worries about unemployment. In fact the percentage saying that unemployment is one of the important issues facing the UK is roughly the same as it was in 2010 despite record job growth. Either voters aren’t paying attention or they’re using unemployment as a shorthand for wider concerns about insecurity and the conditions of employment. Read more

Here’s a simple question: which of Britain’s parliamentary constituencies have seen the biggest job market recoveries since the coalition government took office in 2010?

The answer, I thought, might well generate a news story in the week of the UK general election. So I downloaded a time-series of the number of Jobseeker’s Allowance benefit claimants in each constituency. (I used JSA claimant data because, when you’re looking at small geographical areas, they’re far more accurate than survey-based measures of employment and unemployment.) Read more

FT Baseline

By John Burn-Murdoch and Gavin Jackson

Over a typical Premier League season we would expect any given team to pick up more points per match against weaker opponents than better ones, relative to its own strength. Read more

New York, Rome, Berlin and Mexico City. Which is the odd one out?

It is Rome. It missed out on being in the top 10 cities out of 55 indexed by Youthful Cities, a Toronto-based organisation that has started ranking metropolises based on their ability to meet the demands of their young residents (aged 15-29).

New York topped the list, with London coming in second and Berlin third. More interestingly Mexico City slipped into the top 10, the only non US, Canadian or European city to do so. The mix gets more interesting for the top 20, with the likes of Tel Aviv, Hong Kong and Santiago making the cut. (See full post for list.) Read more

Chris Giles

The Tories must be cursing the Office for National Statistics. Just when they wanted to trumpet solid growth in the economy nine days before the general election, pesky official figures suggest growth of only 0.3 per cent in the first quarter. There is no doubt this is a bad figure. As the chart shows, it is the worst quarterly growth rate since the end of 2012.

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Our new unemployment tracker shows the latest jobs data across the European Union, including top-line figures for each country’s constituent regions. The most recent figures are for September 2014.

You can also download the latest data using the link beneath the graphic. Read more

Emily Cadman

(c) PA

In bitesized form, here is a checklist of what we do – and don’t know about the man who would be prime minister’s plans: Read more

Updated May 06 2015

Note: the five parties shown are those for which every polling company in our poll-of-polls provides individual figures.

UK voters will elect a new parliament in a general election on May 7. Our poll-of-polls tracks all national-level voting intention polling figures going back to the 2010 election – the dots on our chart – and then calculates a rolling score for each party adjusted for recency and different pollsters. Read more

When we report on labour markets, we tend to focus on net changes in employment, unemployment and inactivity. But those measures don’t capture the activity inside labour markets. It’s a big thing to miss. Net employment grew about 600,000 in the UK in the last year. Yet roughly 650,000 people move from one job to another every quarter.

Now the Office for National Statistics has published updated data on job-to-job moves, which give us a glimpse inside the UK jobs machine. Read more

Attitudes on equality between the sexes differ starkly across Europe. In Sweden almost everyone agrees that gender equality is a fundamental right; in Poland and Lithuania that proportion is much lower.

Chris Giles

The big action in the 2015 UK Budget comes in the moderation of public spending cuts. It doesn’t feel much like a rabbit out of a hat, but kills Labour’s charge that the ideological Tories are planning to cut public spending to its lowest level since the 1930s.

This is clear from the long run graph that total managed expenditure had been set to fall to extremely low levels (in green, the colour of the Autumn Statement). Though still true, spending now falls to a level just above the lows of 1999-00 and 1957-58.

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If you live in the UK, you have heard a lot about terrible wage growth over the past five years. You might also have heard that, in spite of the grim headline figures, median pay actually rose a pretty healthy 4.1 per cent in cash terms last year for people who stayed in the same job. Chancellor George Osborne is fond of that figure, since it helps him fend off claims the recovery hasn’t reached ordinary workers’ pay packets. Here’s the chart:

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2013 protest in Manchester against widening pay gap  © Getty

By David Oakley

Britain’s top 10 highest paid bosses earn more than a combined £100m in the most recent financial year. For these top earners, their £118.9m aggregate pay packet was 27 per cent higher than what they received in the previous year.

This – at a time when real household median incomes in the UK is only just returning to 2007-2008 levels – is likely to put executive pay firmly back into the spotlight as the UK general election approaches and shareholders gather at upcoming annual general meetings. Read more

Chris Giles

Choices matter when measuring living standards. When looking at Britain’s living standards since before the recession, you can legitimately say incomes are back to the pre-crisis levels or still 10 per cent below those levels.

This post explains how (and the choices the Institute for Fiscal Studies made in its report this morning).

It showed UK living standards were back to the pre-crisis level. The IFS is an extremely reputable research organisation*. It also noted that the recovery in living standards has been painfully slow since the recession and household living standards still have not reached the 2009-10 peak.

I will show in this blog that definitions of living standards really matter, as do the choice of inflation measure, the choice of time period and the choice of average. It is perfectly possible and reasonable to arrive at a conclusion that living standards are 10 per cent below the pre-recession level with the same data as IFS used. This does not mean the IFS is wrong, but it has made choices that reduce the measured drop in living standards.

This is the IFS chart. Read more

Emily Cadman

Fancy yourself a fully paid up chart and data nerd? Well the Bank of England is looking for you.

To publicise the launch of a more open research agenda, the BoE is offering a £5,000 prize to the best data visualisation using one (or more) of six datasets it has added to its website.

Of course, potential entrants could be keeping their ideas top secret, but by far the dataset attracting most initial interest was the three centuries of macroeconomic research data, which makes a whole treasure trove of long run data – such as wages and prices from 1661 to 2012 – available to the general public.

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Emily Cadman

Politicians of all hues will be looking more closely – and more nervously – than normal at the official public sector borrowing figures out this morning.

This is Chancellor George Osborne’s last chance to get a substantial tax bump in the public finances before the election to achieve the deficit reduction he’s put at the heart of his political programme.

So far this year the government has borrowed nearly the same as the previous one, despite strong economic growth. It is banking on getting a big boost from self-assessment taxes this month, which could give Mr Osborne considerably more room to manoeuvre at the Budget.

If the uplift doesn’t come in strongly, in the biggest month of the year for receipts, it will become nearly impossible for the government to meet this year’s borrowing targets and fuel concerns there has been a structural decline in income tax receipts.

1. Self- assessment income tax receipts

The Treasury has been banking on January being a bumper month for income tax receipts, because of the behavioural changes around the dropping of the top rate of income tax.

In the spring of 2013, a number of higher-rate taxpayers moved their income from the 2012-13 tax year into the 2013-14 tax year to take advantage of the cut in the higher rate of income tax from 50 to 45p. Read more

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Emily Cadman

(c) Getty Images

The Bank of England is studiously non-party political. But with the UK economy – and the cost of living – centre stage in an election campaign that is steadily ramping up, the central bank’s quarterly inflation report on Thursday will be more closely scrutinised than usual. Read more

US honey prices are continuing a steady upward trend with year-on-year prices in early February 13 per cent higher as a result of increased demand and lower domestic production.

Production of US honey has been falling year-on-year, with the latest figures from commodities data firm Mintec showing 67,800 tonnes of honey were produced in 2013, down 5 per cent year-on-year and 35 per cent lower than output levels of 20 years ago, mainly due to a decline in bee colony yields.

As a result of a supply and demand imbalance, imports into the US have been rising steadily, with volumes in 2013 reaching 153,750 tonnes, up 8 per cent year-on-year, and totalling about 65 per cent of US supply. Read more