11 FEBRUARY 1938, Page 2

Unemployment The unemployment figures for January have been awaited with

more than usual interest, as an indication whether the business recession of the last few months may have been merely superficial. At 1,827,607 the figures of unem- ployment shows an increase since December which is the smallest but one for eight years. But owing to the excep- tionally high figures for December this relatively small increase of 162,000 cannot be given any very encouraging interpretation, as it far exceeds the figure, somewhere in the neighbourhood of roo,000, which in the circumstances could be considered normal. Indeed, taking the November- January figures as a basis of comparison, the increase is the greatest since 193o-1, at the depth of the depression ; and since September unemployment has risen by over soo,000 as compared with 380,00o between September and January, 1929-30. These figures and comparisons give very little support to the encouraging messages of hope and confidence recently uttered by bank-chairmen and Cabinet Ministers ; perhaps they may have some influence in inducing the Government to change its attitude, before it is too late, to proposals for preparing public works schemes as a measure for averting a depression. And it should be of interest, especially to those who base their confidence on rearmament, that despite increased Government expenditure on arms, the iron and steel industries share, in the increased unemployment of the last month. * * *