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TUC analysis published today (Tuesday) has found that underemployment – people who have fewer hours of work than they want – remains nearly a million higher than before the financial crisis.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The headline employment rate may have returned to its pre-recession level, but underemployment has barely recovered, so we are still a long way from a full jobs recovery.

16 June 2015

TUC analysis published today (Tuesday) has found that underemployment – people who have fewer hours of work than they want – remains nearly a million higher than before the financial crisis.

The TUC analysis looks at the true scale of the problem by inclusion of all types of underemployment. It looks at how many workers across the economy want more hours in their existing jobs as well as the regularly published measure of the number of workers in part-time jobs who want to work full-time.

There were 2.3 million people underemployed in early 2008, however underemployment rose rapidly following the recession and reached 3.4 million in early 2014. It has fallen slowly in the last year to reach just under 3.3 million in early 2015 – but this is still over 900,000 higher than it was before the recession.

The findings come ahead of new unemployment data to be published this week, which are expected to show that, while the headline rate of employment may be continuing to improve, underemployment is stuck in the slow lane and a full recovery is years away.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The headline employment rate may have returned to its pre-recession level, but underemployment has barely recovered, so we are still a long way from a full jobs recovery.

“The government must address labour market failures that have left us with too many poor quality jobs, and not enough decent jobs with full-time hours. Full employment means not only making sure everyone can get a job, it also means making sure they have a full week’s work if they need it.

“The current economic plan is not delivering enough high quality full-time jobs for everyone who wants one. The Chancellor’s plans for extreme cuts in the Budget next month will not deliver the productivity gains we need for better jobs with more hours. A much better economic plan would set out a clear pathway to close the UK’s investment gap, so that we stop trailing other countries on the innovation needed to create more high quality full-time work.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:

UK underemployment levels

Period

Number of people

2008 Q1

           2,340,022

2010 Q1

           2,982,701

2012 Q1

           3,323,957

2014 Q1

           3,411,791

2015 Q1

           3,268,423

Source: ONS

- The TUC analysis is taken from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The LFS asks respondents both whether they are working part-time and would like full-time work, and whether they would like to undertake more hours in their current job. To control for double counting our underemployment total includes all of those who would like more hours in their current job, along with all those who are working part-time and would like full-time job but tell LFS researchers that they would not like additional hours in their current post.

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

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