What stands out here is that a highish rate of joblessness is quite normal. It is the 1945-73 period of full employment (for men!) that is historically odd, not today’s joblessness. In fact, between 1855 and 1939 the unemployment rate averaged 5.1% – higher than the claimant count rate is now.
Stumbling and Mumbling reckons there are several important messages here:
1. Marxists are right
2. The idea that free market policies can generate sustained full employment lacks any historical foundation
3. Claims that the welfare state has created a culture of dependency in which folk don’t want to work look silly
4. Unemployment is not merely a cyclical problem. It is more permanent than that
5. If we want full employment – and we should – we need something like the post-war settlement
6. If full employment is impossible under capitalism, the question arises: how can we mitigate the misery it causes?