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15 February 2012updated 22 Oct 2020 3:55pm

Chart of the day: part-time Britain

The rise in employment is entirely accounted for by part-time jobs.

By George Eaton

The government claims the 60,000 rise in employment proves the labour market is “stabilising” but what it didn’t mention is that this increase is entirely accounted for by part-time jobs. Today’s ONS figures show that the number of full-time workers fell by 10,000 in the last quarter, while the number of part-time workers rose by 71,000.


This included a surge in the number of people working part-time because they can’t find full-time jobs. This figure rose by 83,000 on the quarter to 1.35 million, the highest figure since comparable records began in 1992 (see graph). Part-time jobs now account for 27 per cent of all employment.

We hear a lot about the scourge of unemployment, which rose by 48,000 to 2.67 million, but too little about the scourge of underemployment. Over the same period, the number of temporary workers has risen to 1.55 million, 602,000 (39 per cent) of whom are in their 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.

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