UK employment: Unemployment figures fall, but number of workers forced to go part-time at a new high
RECORD numbers of workers are being forced to accept part-time jobs because they cannot find full-time ones, figures published yesterday show.
The figures revealed a 7,000 rise in the number of Scots who are being forced to take jobs where they work fewer hours.
While the most common reason for workers taking part-time work is because they do not want a full-time job, the number of people in Scotland who are taking one because of the lack of an alternative has gone up from 110,000 in March 2011, to 117,000 in the same month of this year. That is almost double the March 2009 figure of 65,000.
The part-time workforce in Britain is now made up of more than eight million people, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showed yesterday.
In Scotland, in March this year, there were 684,000 part-time workers, up from 624,000 in the 2008-09 period, and 13,000 higher than the same period this time last year.
The dramatic rise north of the Border – made up mostly of male workers – has pushed the number of Scots who are part-time but want to be full-time to double that of the start of the recession.
Across the UK as a whole, part-time employment rose by 71,000 over the quarter to a record high of 8.07 million, the highest figures since records began in 1992. The number of people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job hit a record high. It was up 16,000 in the three months to June to 1.42 million, which was the highest figure since records began in 1992.
The figures took the gloss off the headline figures yesterday, which, in both the UK and Scotland, showed a fall in unemployment and a rise in employment.
In the UK, the number of people out of work fell by 46,000 to 2.56 million. The unemployment rate fell to 8 per cent in the period, down from 8.2 per cent in the previous quarter. In Scotland, unemployment fell from 220,000 to 214,000, from 8.1 per cent to 7.9 per cent.
The number of people in work in Scotland rose by 12,000 over April to June, to 2.5 million. This total is, however, 5,000 lower than 12 months ago.
Across the UK, the number of people in work increased by 201,000 to almost 30 million, the highest since last summer, with half of the rise coming in London.
UK ministers said the overall rise in employment showed that the private sector was beginning to pick up the slack following the long post-crash period, producing an extra million jobs compared with 2010.
But SNP ministers insisted the UK government should agree to a fresh injection of spending to bolster the country’s flagging construction sector.
The rise in part-time work reflects growing concerns about the amount of reliable work available across the UK, as companies and public-sector bodies struggle to cope with the effects of the deep double-dip recession.
Although ministers hailed the increase in overall work, there are concerns that much of the rise from earlier this summer is a London Olympic blip, caused by the 100,000 temporary jobs created by the 2012 Games.
In Scotland, full-time employment continued its downward trend, with 1.77 million people in full-time work, compared with 1.89 million in the 2008-09 period.
However, across the UK, full-time employment rose by 130,000, to reach 21.41 million over the same period.
With the numbers of employed over-60s rising, the figures may suggest that people nearing, or in, retirement are still taking part-time work to top up pensions which do not meet their needs. Despite the positive gloss put on the headline rise in employment, unions were less optimistic last night about the underlying problems facing households.
They pointed out that, as well as the rise in part-time work, the figures showed that youth unemployment remains high with 21.5 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds in Scotland now out of work.
Graeme Smith, general secretary of the STUC, said: “Youth unemployment continues to rise, underemployment is at historically high levels, real wages continue to decline and unemployment remains double pre-recession levels on both the ILO (International Labour Organisation) and claimant count measures.”
Paul Kenny, leader of the GMB union, said: “These figures show the level of despair and waste of human talent in an economy going through this double-dip recession five years on from the credit crunch of 2007.” Ministers, however, chose to emphasise the positive overall picture.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: “If you take it from 2010, the private sector has created nigh on a million new jobs against a backdrop of difficulty.
“So you have to take your hat off to those people who are working hard and running these jobs. It’s down to them that we’re seeing a fall in unemployment in difficult times, a rise in employment, a fall in female unemployment.”
The Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore said: “The Scottish labour market is proving resilient and it is good news more people are finding work and fewer Scots are claiming benefit.
“Each step in the right direction counts for the families and individuals who have made the positive step into work.”
But First Minister Alex Salmond called for a fresh approach. He said: “This government has argued for a stimulus to capital investment by the UK government to boost the construction sector and wider economy. Scottish GDP would have grown in the first quarter of the year if not for the problems that the sector faces, and that is why I have repeatedly called on the Chancellor to invest an extra £5 billion in capital projects.
“There is no doubt that with the full fiscal powers of independence, the Scottish Government could do even more to strengthen our economy.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West