EVERYTHING, to coin a phrase from a David Bowie album, is hunky dory on the jobs front, with more people in work than ever before.

So says the Government.

What’s not to like?

But wait a second - no sooner had someone at the Department for Work and Pensions desperate to pass on the good news pinged over an email to us than some union guy tried to pour cold water on the celebrations.

A missive rapidly dispatched from the GMB pointed out that unemployment rates are shooting up across the country.

It went on to say the Government spin is ‘so far away’ from reality - seemingly more dire straits than Bowie. (Apologies to anyone not familiar with the 1970s-80s music scene).

So, who is right?

Well, funnily enough, both could well have reached correct conclusions, putting starkly different interpretations on the same figures.

It could simply be a case of ‘lies, damned lies and statistics’, according to the phrase which may have been first uttered by one-time Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli - no-one is sure exactly who came up with the saying.

Incidentally, and in no way connected with the 21st Century jobs situation in the UK, Disraeli once stood unsuccessfully in Taunton at a general election. But I digress.

First, here’s what the Government is saying...

The current employment rate of 75.8 per cent is the highest ever.

There’s a record 32.53 million people in work; unemployment remains static at a historic low of 4 per cent; there are 853,000 job vacancies and youth unemployment has halved since 2010.

And, to cap it all, wages are increasing faster than inflation.

Delighted Employment Minister Alok Sharma piped up: “Our pro-business policies have helped boost private sector employment by 3.8 million since 2010, and as the Resolution Foundation’s latest report shows, the ‘jobs-boom has helped some of the most disadvantaged groups find employment’, providing opportunities across society.”

‘Oh dear,’ or something along those lines, retorted GMB general secretary Tim Roache, ‘that’s so wrong’.

He reckons things are actually getting worse because of the Government’s “wrong-headed” austerity policies, a lack of investment in jobs and the economy and a lack of a feasible Brexit plan.

He claims unemployment has skyrocketed all over the country and specifically, 17 per cent in the South West.Mr Roache said: “Thousands of jobs lost means thousands of people and families wondering how they’re going to pay the bills. It means thousands more at foodbanks.

“We need action to create jobs and increase confidence in the economy now, not more Westminster games or internal party wrangles.”

Any decent mathematician - a moniker never hurled in my direction - could tell you it is possible to see more people in work and the unemployment rate increasing simultaneously. It just means the population has increased.

The apparent discrepancy between the two camps is simply down to some clever spin even Somerset and England cricketer Jack Leach would be proud of.

On a local level, Jobcentres are painting a pretty rosy picture.

A spokesman for Taunton Jobcentre says the employer engagement team “continues to be very busy” with a “high demand for staff in multiple sectors including retail, care and security”.

And over at the seaside, Minehead is witnessing a “steady flow of vacancies”, with more jobs coming up ahead of the busy summer season.

And there’s also a jobs fair planned at Butlin’s in March.

In these days of famous high street names becoming extinct and others issuing profit warnings almost as frequently as a Donald Trump tweet, it has become commonplace to hear of job losses across the country.

But there’s an anomaly.

While redundancy packages are being handed out to staff at failing companies, other firms are struggling to recruit the workforce they need.

Nigel Pearce, president of Taunton Chamber of Commerce, said: “Most businesses in the area appear to be busy, and the feedback from our members is that there is a skills shortage and that recruiting new staff is a problem, which has been building for some time.

“I know in my own business sector of construction that lead-in times to get projects underway are increasing and trying to find suitably qualified staff is preventing expansion.”

Locally we seem to be enjoying something of a jobs boost, with thousands employed on the Hinkley Point C project.

And just this week, Chard’s biggest employer, the flourishing Numatic company, makers of the famous Henry vacuum cleaners, wants to take on up to 300 more employees after revealing expansion plans and a projected increased turnover of 30 per cent over the next five years.

A Numatic spokesman said: “To achieve the target growth, we will need extra buildings and an estimated 200 to 300 jobs will be created.”

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