When you look at the Chart of the Week below and then at the economy in general, you have to ask yourself "what are all these working hours being spent on doing?"
The chart, provided by the Economic Research Council, is based on ONS data.
Summary: While the unemployment figures released today were largely uninspiring, showing a small increase in total number of people unemployed compared to last quarter, one aspect that is interesting is that the total number of weekly hours worked has now exceeded the previous record set in the first quarter of 2008.
What does the chart show? The blue line, measured against the left hand axis in millions of hours, shows the total number of hours worked by UK workers per week, over the three month period preceding the date shown. The red line, measured against the right hand axis, shows the average number of hours worked each week by UK workers.
Why is the chart interesting? A lot has been made of the move from full-time to part-time employment patterns since the financial crisis in 2008, but this chart seems to show that there has been a largely unhindered recovery in working hours since the Summer of 2011. This quarter, the total number of hours worked overtook the amount worked at the beginning of 2008 for the first time, and is now at its highest point since records began in 1971. However, the number of hours worked per week by the average worker has lagged behind for the past year, and is still some way off the 2008 level.