THE number of Scottish workers stuck in part-time or temporary jobs has increased to almost a third, with growing fears it could undermine the country’s employment recovery.
Citizens Advice chiefs say they are dealing with growing appeals for help from people who are struggling to make ends meet because of the lack of work.
The emerging “underemployment” scourge was branded unsustainable by the Labour Party, which says that workers have been left “uncertain” about their long-term future.
Unemployment has been falling in Scotland in recent months, with the number of people in jobs having increased to 2.5 million.
However, this has been accompanied by an ongoing increase in the number of people in part-time work.
There were 652,000 part-time workers in Scotland in the year to March 2010, but this had risen by 36,000 by March this year.
The number of temporary workers has jumped 10,000 since June last year and stood at 128,000 in the year to 20 March.
Although some workers will choose to work fewer hours, it is estimated that about a quarter of a million Scottish workers are “underemployed”.
Labour’s finance spokesman, Iain Gray, said: “In recent months the SNP have trumpeted the fall in unemployment in Scotland, but behind the headline figures there is a far bleaker picture where more people are forced into taking temporary or part-time jobs in order to secure an income. This isn’t sustainable for the Scottish economy and for individuals it creates an uncertainty around long-term future employment.”
Research commissioned by the party showed that 330,000 more people are underemployed in the UK than in 2010, including 200,000 with dependent children.
Keith Dryburgh, policy manager at Citizens Advice Scotland, warned that many people affected by underemployment are hidden from official statistics.
“Citizens Advice bureaux are increasingly seeing people who want to work longer hours but cannot find them in a difficult economic climate,” he said. “These are people who are struggling to make ends meet, and yet are often ‘invisible’ in the government’s statistics about employment.”
The Scottish Government said employment levels are higher in Scotland, while the unemployment rate is lower than elsewhere in the UK.
A spokesman added: “Youth unemployment continues to fall, with Scotland performing better than the UK across all headline labour market measures for young people.
“Scotland’s economy continues to grow faster than the UK with a strong performance across the business services and finance sector.”