Workers forced into part-time roles hits record high

The number of people forced to work part time because they could not find a full-time job has risen to the highest level since comparable records began, with unemployment climbing to 2.49 million.

The figures, released by the Office of National Statistics today, found that 1.26 million people were working part time because they had struggled to find full-time employment in the three months to June 2011, a rise of 83,000 from the previous quarter.

Unemployment rates for women also reached a record high, with a 21,000 increase over the three months to June leading to the highest number of unemployed women in 23 years.

Business groups and unions expressed concern over the figures and have called on the Government to rexamine its plans to encourage growth.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) claimed that the figures reinforce the need to help the private sector create jobs by reducing the burden of red tape on businesses.

BCC chief econonomist David Kern said: “The figures reveal a worrying rise in unemployment. There is a clear slowdown in the number of jobs being created, which has halved since the previous quarter. One of the most concerning features is the sharp increase in the number of people working part time because they could not find a full-time job, at the highest level since comparable records began in 1992.”

“The private sector is willing and able to create new jobs, but, faced with a tough environment, businesses need to be given the right conditions to take on more staff. The Government must reduce the burden of red tape on business, and ensure we have a skills sytem that delivers the right candidates for those wanting to grow their workforce.”

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber also expressed concern over the figures and has called on Chancellor George Osborne to put forward a “Plan B” to stop the economy heading back towards recession.

“Today’s rise in unemployment points to a worrying deterioration in the UK labour market,” said Barber. “And with our so-called ‘recovery’ stagnating, all the indicators point to further rises in joblessness.

“The number of vacancies is now down to levels last seen in 2009, while female unemployment is at a 23-year high. As public sector job losses mount, employment prospects for many women are looking bleak.

“Government complacency over growth is now coming back to haunt the UK, and the Chancellor’s plans for job creation are woefully inadequate. Even if successful, the new enterprise zones will create fewer jobs in the next four years than have been lost in the last three months.”

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