Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Rishi Sunak

‎”As we emerge from the pandemic, one of my key priorities is jobs, jobs, jobs. … unemployment is down and employment is up, and there are 662,000 more employees on company payrolls and earning more money than before the pandemic”

Dr Thérèse Coffey, Department for Work and Pensions Twitter


Coffey asserts that, in April 2022, unemployment was “down”, employment “up”, that there are more payrolled employees and they are earning more than before the pandemic. This is a multi-faceted claim.

Coffey’s assertion that more people were in work, by April 2022, than prior to the Covid pandemic is incorrect. Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that, in the period from December 2019 to February 2020 there were around 33million people in employment. In the most recent figures provided by the ONS, referring to the period February-April 2022, there were around 32.7million people employed. This is a decrease. Darren Morgan, the ONS’ Director of Economic Statistics stated “total employment.. remains below its pre-pandemic level”.

It is accurate to claim that unemployment is down and that more people are on the payroll. ONS figures show unemployment was 1.364million in the period December 2019-February 2020, compared to 1.3million in the period February-April 2022, the most recent period covered. The ONS states there was an increase of 606,000 payrolled employees between February 2021-22. Coffey is also accurate in suggesting that people are earning more. ONS figures show that average weekly earnings, in April 2022, were at £511, compared to an average of £502 between December 2019 to February 2020.


Coffey’s assertion that more people were in work is incorrect and misleading. There are fewer people in employment in the most recent ONS figures in comparison to the period leading up to the pandemic.

Downing Street has been told by the head of the UK Statistics Authority, Ed Humpherson, that ‘it is inaccurate to state that there are now more people in work than at the end of this period than the start’. 

We approached Dr Thérèse Coffey’s office and the Department for Work and Pensions to give her a chance to comment, but received no response.

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