Part-time workers are desperate for more hours, study shows
Jim Armitage is the City editor of The Independent and London Evening Standard group of newspapers. He has been a reporter and editor for more than 20 years and was recently shortlisted for the Press Gazette financial journalist of the year and The Society of Editors financial journalist of the year awards. He contributes news, investigative reports and comment to the Independent titles plus a daily column in the Evening Standard.
Monday 12 May 2014
Unemployment may be falling faster than most economists and the Bank of England expected, but figures today highlighted the frustrations of Britain’s army of part-time workers unable to earn a decent living wage.
More than 40 per cent of workers without full-time employment want more hours, with that number increasing to nearly 50 per cent for those currently struggling on fewer than eight hours a week.
The figures, from Markit, give the lie to the theory put by some business leaders that flexibility and part-time working is mainly a lifestyle choice for those such as parents of young children or carers to elderly relatives.
The survey – one of the largest of its kind, interviewing almost 1,000 households – showed that the desire for more hours was strongest among young men, with those working in retail and construction the most eager for more hours.
Even 9 per cent of people with full-time employment often want more hours, the survey found, suggesting that they too were struggling to cope with the cost of living.
Of those who are in employment, 36 per cent of employees feel their skills are underutilised by their bosses – a factor likely to be largely due to the difficulties that graduates have been finding in getting jobs reflecting their standards of education since the financial crisis.
Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said: “The survey highlights a worrying waste of talent, with just over one in three employees feeling their employer could make more use of their skills and abilities.”
Official figures suggest that some 1.4 million are working part-time because they cannot find full-time jobs, leaving many households struggling to maintain their living standards – a factor that has been leapt upon by Labour as it gears up for next year’s election. Living standards have fallen for six years, with the Institute for Fiscal Studies pointing out that real incomes are still far below their level as recently as 2010.
The Markit study also points to a problem in the allocation of skills within the UK, with signs that there are not enough people with skills in IT and telecoms, finance and business services and construction. People employed in those areas were most likely to make up the 23 per cent of people who felt they had too much work to do.
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next
- 3 Young Preston fan has play-off hero Jermaine Beckford's shirt stolen from him at Wembley - which then appears for sale on Gumtree
- 4 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 5 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
iJobs Money & Business
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...
£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...
£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...