From the TUC

September’s ‘Want Work’ figures

17 Sep 2009, by in Economics, Labour market

There are five and a half million people who want work and either haven’t got a job or can’t work as many hours as they would like.

Last month I promised to keep a record of the “want work” figures each month. The unemployment figures are very important, but they don’t tell us the whole story about the misery of being out of work. Some people don’t meet the definition of an unemployed person, because they are disabled or students or looking after children, for instance, and they are classified as ‘economically inactive’. The employment figures typically show that one economically inactive person in four or five still wants work – there are currently 7,986,000 economically inactive people of working age, so this is a significant group of people.

In addition, there are people in part-time jobs who really want to work full-time. There are always more people working part-time because they don’t want a full-time job, which is a good thing, but a growing number of involuntary part-timers is always a bad sign. As the recession has bitten deeper, so the proportion of part-time workers who’d really prefer full-time jobs has grown steadily:

Proportion of part-time workers who could not get a full-time job


May – July 08

Aug – Oct 08

Nov – Jan 09

Feb – Apr 09

May – Jul 09







The ‘want work’ level is the number of unemployed people plus the number of unemployed people plus the number of economically inactive people who want a job. In the latest labour market figures, this level reached 4,614,000 – up from 4,531,000 last month:

Working age Want Work figures, May – July 2009

Want work level

Want work rate

Part-time – couldn’t find full-time




We also show a “Want Work rate” which shows this figure as a proportion of the total population, excluding economically inactive people who don’t want jobs. This month the figure reached 14.1% – up from 13.3% last month.

We record the numbers of involuntary part-time workers separately, because they do have some work, but they are undoubtedly part of the total picture of labour market slack. In this month’s figures the number of people in this position rose to 971 thousand, a seven thousand increase on last month’s figures.

One seventh of the potential workforce don’t have jobs and nearly a million people are working less than ideal hours. We cannot talk about an end to the recession until these figures start to fall.

3 Responses to September’s ‘Want Work’ figures

  1. Tax Research UK » September’s ‘Want Work’ figures
    Sep 17th 2009, 8:06 pm

    […] September’s ‘Want Work’ figures | ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC. […]

  2. September’s ‘Want Work’ figures | called2account
    Sep 17th 2009, 8:21 pm

    […] September’s ‘Want Work’ figures | ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC. […]

  3. linda kaucher
    Sep 18th 2009, 10:02 am

    Then why is the TUC not raising the issue of almost all new jobs going to migrant labour, the problem of free movement of labour within the EU, the awarding of contracts to overseas firms that can then bring in own labour (backed by ECJ Viking Laval decisions), the overseas student issues – graduates allowed to stay and work for 2 years after graudating, when so many UK gradates are out of work ( or stay for ever, as the Baroness Scotland issue suggests), only benefitting university fatcats.

    The TUC is also deafeningly silent on the Mode 4 – movement of cheap labour into the EU being cast irrevocably into every EU trade agreement under negotiation. Why?

    Aren’t you paid to deal with these issues on behalf of UK workers, who you supposedly work for?