From the TUC

Jobless cleaners, caterers and machine operators amongst those most at risk of long-term unemployment

12 Dec 2011, by in Labour market

Analysis by the TUC published today shows, if they become unemployed, low-paid workers such as cleaners, catering assistants and machine operators are most likely to be on the dole for more than six months.

The analysis shows that as unemployment rises and the number of job vacancies fall, a growing proportion of unemployed people are staying on the dole for over six months, and this is affecting low-paid workers more than others.

The number of dole claimants out of work for over six months has increased by around a third since the start of the recession, rising from 29% in April 2008 to 40% in October 2011. Currently around one in six dole claimants have now been out of work for over a year.

The risk of becoming long-term unemployed has increased most for machine operators, with the number of long-term dole claimants rising from 29% before the recession to 45% in October this year. People from elementary occupations – which includes jobs like cleaners, catering assistants and security guards – have had the second sharpest increase, with 46% of them now having been on the dole for at least six months.

Dole claimants from professional occupations have seen barely any change in the length of time they are spending out of work, with the proportion of those on the dole who have been unemployed over six months falling slightly since the recession to 29%.

Before the recession the risk of long-term unemployment did not vary greatly between occupations, with one in four (25%) unemployed managers on the dole for over six months, compared to one in three (31%) of those from elementary occupations.However, this gap has grown over the recession and lower-paid occupations are now experiencing the sharpest rise in the risk of long-term unemployment.

Out of work people from lower paid occupations such as cleaners, machine operators and sales assistants have a far greater risk of becoming long-term unemployed than those from higher-paid occupations such as managers, senior officials and professional occupations such as engineers, teachers and solicitors.

The TUC is particularly concerned about rising long-term unemployment as it can permanently scar people’s job prospects, both through long spells of unemployment and because they often have to work below their skill level.

The TUC is calling on the government to provide greater support for those out of work for six months or more as it believes the current policy of only providing help after 12 months could come too late for many.

Unemployed workers on the dole for over six months by occupation

Occupation Proportion on dole for over six months, 2008 (per cent) Proportion on dole for over six months, 2011 (per cent) Change2008-11 (per cent) Median hourly pay£
Managers & Senior Officials 25% 34% 9% 18.71
Professional Occupations 30% 29% -1% 20.29
Associate Professional & Technical Occupations 29% 33% 4% 14.53
Administrative & Secretarial Occupations 28% 37% 9% 9.71
Skilled Trades Occupations 28% 40% 12% 10.62
Personal Service Occupations 28% 37% 9% 8.25
Sales & Customer Service occupations 27% 37% 11% 6.89
Process, Plant and Machine Operatives 29% 45% 16% 9.19
Elementary Occupations 31% 46% 15% 6.92
Total 29% 40% 11% 11.15

Source: nomisweb, Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2011

The figures are based on UK claimant count, and the full TUC analysis is available as an Excel spreadsheet