Fall in unemployment masking risk of ‘part-time recovery’
Authors: Andrew Sissons
18 April 2012
Commenting on today’s labour market statistics, Andrew Sissons, researcher at The Work Foundation, said:
“The slight drop in unemployment is an encouraging sign after many months of turmoil in the labour market. However, these figures make it clear that the improvement is being driven by an increasingly part-time recovery. The economy actually shed full-time jobs over the last three months. There are now 1.4 million people in part-time work who would prefer a full-time job, which is the highest level since records began.
“There are some good signs about the underlying health of the labour market: there has been a shift away from self-employment, and there has been a recovery in hours worked, which suggests some workers may be finding more work and greater job security. However, men have seen most of the benefits from job creation, with women struggling in the last three months. The fall in youth unemployment should offer little encouragement – employment amongst young people has continued to fall, and the small fall in unemployment is down to a rise in inactivity.
“Going forward, we are unlikely to see any significant improvements in unemployment until the labour market becomes much stronger. This depends on solid economic growth, with increases in full-time work and hours worked. The outlook for both remains uncertain, and these priorities should remain top of the government’s agenda.”
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Notes to editors
1. The number of people in full-time employment fell by 27,000 in the three months in December to February compared with the previous three months, and has fallen by 68,000 over the last year. Meanwhile, part-time work rose by 61,000 in three months, and by 63,000 over the last year.
There are 1.4 million part-time workers who could not find a full-time job. This is the highest figure since records began in 1993.
2. Andrew Sissons and Charles Levy are available for interviews, briefings and written comment.
3. The Work Foundation aims to be the leading independent, international authority on work and its future, influencing policy and practice for the benefit of society. The Work Foundation is part of Lancaster University – an alliance that enables both organisations to further enhance their impact.
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