The longer the depression in Britain goes on, the more we see unemployment stats described in cold lists of numbers while the misery behind them gets short shrift - dulling the minds of the public to the deprivation they represent.
Let's hope that in the wake of TUC Congress the labour movement can issue a dramatic wake-up call to remind us that people are more than just numbers.
Recent stats from the Office for National Statistics state that the employment rate in Wales has "edged up" to 55.2 per cent, an increase of 0.9 percentage points.
The official unemployment rate for over-16s has apparently stayed put at 8.9 per cent.
But the figure for "those not in paid employment but not looking for a job" stands at 39.4 per cent. This of course includes the retired and those in education but does reflect a surge in youth unemployment.
The discussion over these figures becomes mind-numbing.
Experts pontificating on whether a percentage-point rise or fall indicates economic health might as well be arguing about the number of angels that can fit on a pinhead.
The whole debate reminds us that figures can lie.
The endless tussle to interpret figures to advantage or not - why are economists always surprised by the latest ones? - promotes obscurantism. The old, the young, the sick and the unemployed become economic ciphers, not suffering human beings.
In Wales there are 132,000 unemployed - up by another 1,130 souls in August and 10,000 of whom have been out of work for over a year.
Of the latter 4,500 are aged between 18 and 24. Public squalor continues to spread as the government addresses only the needs of the rich.
The Welsh Assembly and government are not blameless, but devolved authority is handicapped by the macro-economic policies of the Con-Dem coalition at Westminster, which still preaches and extends austerity.
Wales's new Secretary of State David Jones, Tory MP for Clwyd West - my MP, incidentally - says this month's figures "illustrate the need for the UK and Welsh governments to co-ordinate their economic efforts more closely."
Provided there's common ground, I suppose, and there isn't much of that at present. And in any case, any such co-ordination would be a first.
Welsh Education Minister Leighton Andrews has fallen foul of Westminster counterpart Michael Gove after Andrews decided to regrade the results of Welsh students who took their English GCSE exam in June, only to be given lower grades than their colleagues examined in January.
Those who could have expected the all-important C-grade - vital for many job or further education applications - based on January's pattern were instead graded D.
Andrews's duties include being the system's regulator, while in England that job falls to the "independent" body Ofqual, chaired by Amanda Spielman. Both Andrews and Ofqual had both urged stricter marking by exam boards in between the dates.
Spielman is reportedly closely allied to Gove and his thinking on education. She labelled those examined in January "fortunate" - so those tested later were presumably "unfortunate." The word callous comes to mind. Parents and teaching unions are currently challenging the outcome.
Gove's grubby hand-prints are all over the Ofqual decision - even though it is denied, with echoes of Jeremy Hunt and James Murdoch, that Gove and Spielman ever discussed the subject.
Gove denounced Andrews as "irresponsible and mistaken" and attacked Wales's educational record at a Commons select committee. His demeanour will have confirmed the view in Wales that Westminster ministers have a low opinion of their Welsh counterparts.
And Speilman's remark that Andrews acted because of the "political difficulty" of students in Wales underperforming compared to the English says more about her than him.
Andrews has stuck to his guns - saying: "Everyone accepts that a cohort of students have been treated unfairly. If Mr Gove and Ofqual are prepared to tolerate this unfairness then that's a matter for them."
His stance has drawn praise from teaching union NUT deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney, who said the minister "took stock of the situation and acted swiftly, while in England the Education Secretary has buried his head in the sand and refused to acknowledge the overwhelming evidence of political interference."
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