The number of part time workers reached its highest level in 20 years due to their inability to find full-time employment, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS). From October to December 2011, 83,000 people accepted part-time roles. Even though the number of people in employment rose 0.1 percent, the increase was mainly due to part-time work.
‘Although the increase in employment was stronger than expected, there is a slight cause for concern,’ said David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce. ‘The number of full-time employees fell, and the increase in employment was mainly due to a rise in part-time workers. The high level of youth unemployment, which remains above one million, is also worrying.’
Along with the high number of unemployed youths (ages 16-24), women make up a proportionally large number of the newly unemployed. Nearly two-thirds of those out of work are female.
Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, noted: ‘Over six million people are either out of work or under-employed. Tackling this crisis should be the Government's number one priority.’
Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, saw hope in the newly released data. ‘People in part-time work can avoid falling into the benefits trap…People working flexibly is good news for them and the economy.’