Unemployment is a surprisingly slippery concept. One crucial distinction is between recorded and hidden unemployment. Since 1982 the Department of Employment’s statistics have covered only those workers who draw unemployment benefit, excluding the many — especially married women — who do not draw benefit, and rendering the count sensitive to alterations in the system of administering payments. The numbers of hidden unemployed undoubtedly increased as a result of the new recording arrangements, which were only one of the 19 changes introduced between 1979 and 1986. Of these, 18 reduced the recorded unemployment rate, so that the official British statistics give a misleading impression of trends in unemployment during the 1980s (Unemployment Unit, 1986).
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