# What does the "over 8m fewer people" mean?

I've read a sentence from the economist,which is as follows

Over 8m fewer people are in work than before the pandemic.

I think it looks very strange because why people could be over and fewer at the same time?

So I think the normal order should be like this

People in work are fewer than before the pandemic,the number of which is over 8m.

But I wonder how to understand this kind of inverted sentence,bacause there is no initial negatives or other signs.

• It's quite idiomatic. Commented Apr 17, 2021 at 0:58
• It's describing a negative change. The greater the negative change, the larger the number. Yes, it's clear and idiomatic.
– Dan
Commented Apr 17, 2021 at 0:59
• Fewer people (over 8 million) are in work than before the epidemic. Commented Apr 17, 2021 at 1:28
• @Xanne - I think it means employed: Before the pandemic there were more than 8 million more people employed than there are today. I.e. We’ve lost over 8 million jobs.
– Jim
Commented Apr 17, 2021 at 5:25
• In American usage,if you are employed or unemployed (but seeking a job), you are in the labor force. If you do not wish to work or have given up looking for a job, you are not in the labor force. Commented Apr 17, 2021 at 7:56

## 1 Answer

It means the new value is equal to the old value minus 8,000,000 and further minus an additional positive integer number, X, where X is likely to be significantly smaller than 8,000,000.

The original sentence is unambiguous. The proposed alternative sentence:

People in work are fewer than before the pandemic, the number of which is over 8m.

is ambiguous, as it isn't clear if it refers to the number of people in work, or to the magnitude by which the number of people in work has been reduced.