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The rise of part-time Britain

1.3m people are being forced to work part-time because they can't find full-time jobs.

The government boasted today of a rise in employment of 18,000 (unemployment rose by 118,000) but what it didn't mention was that while the number of part-time jobs rose by 75,000, the number of full-time jobs fell by 57,000. The former now account for 23 per cent of all employment.

A rise in part-time jobs is not always a negative indicator. Those who care for children or other family members, for instance, are often unable to work longer hours. But data from the Office for National Statistics shows that a growing number of people are being forced to work part-time because they can't find full-time jobs. As the graph below shows, the number of workers in this group has risen to 1.3m, the highest level since comparable records began in 1992. This figure has risen by 44,000 (3.5 per cent) in the last quarter and by 149,000 (12.8 per cent) in the last year.

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Over the same period, the number of temporary workers has risen to 1.6 million, 38 per cent of whom are in the jobs because they couldn't find permanent work. As well as worrying about the quantity of jobs, we need a renewed focus on the quality too.