The number of people who are under-employed has increased by nearly 100,000 over the last two years, according to new analysis published by the TUC.
The analysis 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.
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.
The fastest rise in under-employment over the past two years has been among self-employed workers. There has been a seven per cent (36,000) increase in the number of self-employed people who class themselves as under-employed compared to a two per cent rise (57,000) for employees.
The TUC says the analysis shows that despite talk of a 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.
Northern Ireland has seen the sharpest increase in under-employment since the last election with a 37 per cent rise, followed by the East of England (up 25 per cent), Wales (up 21 per cent) and the North West (up 18 per cent)
Under-employment has also gone up significantly in the North East (16 per cent), South East (up 14 per cent), East Midlands (up 11 per cent) and South West (up 10 per cent) since 2010.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Ministers have made much of the improving jobs figures as a sign that all is now well with the economy. But although unemployment is falling, there are still nearly 3.4 million people who would like to be working more hours than they are.
“With more jobs being created, you’d expect that under-employment would be on the wane too. But sadly with part-time, temporary, low-paid jobs often the only work that people can get, under-employment remains stubbornly high and is still rising.
“As the squeeze on pay continues, many people don’t have enough money for everyday essentials, let alone the cash to cover any unexpected emergencies. With no let up in their financial woes in sight, people are understandably looking to take on more hours just to keep the wolf from the door.
“In the last two years the number of people who say they need more hours has increased by 100,000. Without a decent pay rise and the creation of more permanent, secure jobs, under-employment is unlikely to fall any time soon.”