Part-time jobs are only option for many due to lack of full-time employment

Record numbers of people are working part-time because they can’t find full-time work, new research shows.

The number of part-time workers has soared to more than one million – the highest number on record and a 45% increase since the recession began, according to an analysis by think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).

The research, which comes ahead of official unemployment figures due to be released this morning, also show a spike in the number of temporary workers unable to find permanent jobs – up 40% since the recession began.

Other findings reveal that the number of men in temporary jobs and unable to find permanent work rose by more than half (53%) since the beginning of the recession. For women, that figure was 46%.

And one in five (22%) involuntary part-time workers is aged between 16 and 24.

The think-tank warns there are an estimated 2.8 million ‘underemployed’ people, unable to earn enough money or find secure employment. The cost of workers in part-time work and unable to secure full-time employment stands at some £9bn in terms of lost earnings and benefits, it said.

Sales and customer services were the sectors part-time workers struggled to find permanent employment in, while temporary workers had difficulty finding full-time work in admin and secretarial roles.

Lisa Harker, co-director of IPPR, called on the new government to tackle the shortage of jobs and the costs of underemployment. “While many people want to work part-time for family or other reasons, IPPR’s analysis and research show that a growing number of people are trapped in insecure work or unable to work enough hours to earn a decent income.

“Young people in particular are victims of this growing trend, and there is danger that their long-term employment prospects will be badly affected. The large number of underemployed workers does not attract as much attention as those who have no work at all, but this hidden phenomenon is in many ways just as big a problem.”

Meanwhile, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has warned that hopes for any marked improvement in job prospects will be dashed unless clarity is given on the shape of economic and employment policy.

John Philpott, economic adviser at the CIPD, accepted that full policy details would not be likely to emerge before a formal Budget statement, but called on the government to issue an immediate statement broadly outlining plans for the economy and employment.

This should include the timing of deficit reduction measures, plans for any change to employers’ national insurance contributions, and the scope of welfare to work policy, he said.

“Everyone acknowledges the severity of the UK’s fiscal crisis, but the jobs market challenge is equally serious. For jobs sake, the government must get to work without delay,” he added.

Official figures released in April showed the number of unemployed people hit a 16-year high and increased by 43,000 in the three months to February, to reach 2.5 million – the highest figure since December 1994.

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