From the TUC

Unemployment may be falling but under-employment remains stubbornly high

03 Sep 2014, by in Labour market

Ministers have made much of the improving jobs figures as a sign that all is now well with the economy. Prime Minister David Cameron told the Commons recently “We have reached an important milestone, with more people in work than ever before in our history’

However TUC analysis published today shows that while unemployment has fallen by over 400,000 since early 2012, under-employment has risen by 93,000. And at 3.4 million the current level of under-employment is over a million higher (46 per cent) than it was before the recession.

 Employment Levels 2008-2014

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  Underemployment Levels 2008-2014

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The TUC analysis of the Labour Force Survey shows that across the UK the number of people who count as under-employed – people working part-time because they can’t get a full-time job, or wanting more hours in their current job, has increased for both employees and the self-employed.

While there has been a small recent fall in involuntarily part-time work (people working part-time because they can’t get a full-time job), the TUC analysis reveals that a rise in the numbers who want more hours in their existing jobs means that under-employment is still increasing.

Despite the talk of recovery, continual real wage falls mean that more people than ever are looking for extra hours to make ends meet. Since the government came to power in 2010 under-employment has increased by nearly half a million (432,000) and shows little sign of slowing.

The government has tried to rebut these figures and a DWP spokesman argued that there are over 100,000 fewer people who say they are under-employed compared to a year ago. They are wrong. Certainly, it is true that the number of people working part-time as they can’t get a full-time job has gone down slightly (as our analysis shows). However our analysis includes everyone in work who says they would like extra hours. This figure has gone up even more, despite falling unemployment.

The latest available statistics show that the number of  workers wanting more hours in their current job increased by 102,000 between Jan-March 2012 to Jan-March 2014, while the number of part-time workers wanting a full-time job (but not wanting more hours in their current jobs) fell by just 8,000.

The UK jobs market has seen dramatic rises in underemployment in the last few years. The jobs recovery will only be underway when underemployment levels start to show significant falls.    

Under-employment levels (employees and self employed) 2012-14

Total under-employment levels

Jan-Mar 2012

Jan-Mar 2014

Change (level)

Change (per cent)

UK

3,299,765

3,393,286

93,521

3%

 Under-employment levels (employees + self employed) 2008-14

Total under-employment levels

Jan-Mar 2008

Jan-Mar 2014

Change (level)

Change (per cent)

UK

2,316,587

3,393,286

1,076,699

46%

 Under-employment levels (employees and self employed) by UK region 2010-14

Total under-employment levels

Jan- Mar 2010

Jan – March 2014

Change (level)

Change (per cent)

North East

127,578

148,368

20,790

16%

North West

307,517

362,161

54,644

18%

Yorkshire/ Humberside

267,927

302,442

34,515

13%

East Midlands

229,266

255,476

26,210

11%

West Midlands

250,593

257,919

7,326

3%

Eastern

274,722

342,774

68,052

25%

London

424,101

455,134

31,033

7%

South East

420,042

479,570

59,528

14%

South West

262,663

287,769

25,106

10%

Wales

123,100

149,355

26,255

21%

Scotland

220,445

279,495

59,050

27%

Northern Ireland

  53,224

  72,823

19,599

37%

UK

2,961,178

3,393,286

432,108

15%

 

-The TUC analysis is taken from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The LFS asks respondents both whether they are working part-time and would like full-time work, and whether they would like to undertake more hours in their current job. To control for double counting our under-employment total includes all of those who would like more hours in their current job, along with all those who are working part-time and would like a full-time job but tell LFS researchers that they would not like additional hours in their current post. The data used was Jan-March 2014 – the latest available figures.