We are well used to reading, digesting and mulling over employment figures.
These usually consist of a few percentages relating to the number of people unemployed within a certain time frame, usually within a particular area, and often within a certain age bracket.
It’s a very simple state of affairs – the number goes down, that’s good, the number goes up, that’s bad.
It’s one of the key tools used by the government to track the health of the country’s economy – the theory being that a strong, healthy, growing economy, will be creating new jobs and sustaining the ones which already exist.
However what these figures, quoted daily in media headlines, don’t usually take into consideration is whether or not the number of hours that these employed people work, meets the expectations or ability that they have.
ONS Publishes Striking Figures
These statistics suggest that around 3 Million people in employment in the UK are currently under-employed…that’s about 10% of the country’s total workforce!
Specifically what this means is that 10% of workers here would like to work more hours in the week – presumably not for the love of their job, but for the extra money and security such an arrangement would bring. The results also show that the average number of hours people would like to see their working week increase by is 11.
On the other end of the spectrum, some 10% would like to work less hours in the week, and would be willing to take a pay cut to achieve this.
Whilst the overall number of underemployed people has fallen by 116,000 in the year to quarter 2 of 2014, this is the 6th consecutive year in which the figure has remained higher than 9.5%, sparking worry amongst economists that the supposedly improving employment market, indicated by falling unemployment figures, is masking a very serious problem within the country’s economy.
It’s possible to argue that a significant proportion of the 10% of people who would like to work more hours in the week, are already working full-time and just want some extra cash in their pocket. It’s possible yes, but we would suggest common sense dictates otherwise…we can’t imagine 10% of people in full-time employment would like to put in a 50 hour week. Even if they do, there is something chronically wrong with an economy that means 10% of its economically active people feel compelled to work a 50 hour week to maintain an acceptable standard of living. Whichever way you look at it, these figures are not good news.
We are very concerned by the fact that a supposedly growing economy could still hide so many ‘employed’ people who might be struggling to piece together enough hours to maintain a decent salary at the end of the month.
Needless to say we will be keeping a close eye on it.
Are you under-employed? We would love to hear your thoughts in our comment section below.