August 14, 2013
The latest employment figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that unemployment fell by just 4,000 in the three months to June. At 7.8 per cent, the overall rate remains unchanged since the previous quarter. The figures don’t reveal how many people are working on temporary, rather than full time contracts. According to TUC data, UK workers are increasingly taking involuntary temporary jobs, with almost half of the rise in employment since 2010 being in temporary work. Today’s ONS figures also show that wages grew by 1.1 per cent over the past year, which, when bonuses are included meant wages grew by 2.1 per cent, the highest annual growth since June 2011. But UK wages still lag behind those of EU workers.
The TUC analysis found that between December 2010 and December 2012 the number of temporary workers increased by 89,000 to reach 1,650,000 – nearly half (46 per cent) of the total rise in employment.
The most common form of temporary work is contract or fixed period work, though the number of people doing these jobs has fallen by 19,000 over the last two years. In contrast, casual work – for example, someone who is not part of the permanent workforce but supplies work on an irregular basis – has been the fastest growing form of temporary work, soaring by 62,000 in the last two years alone.
According to figures requested by the Labour Party and collated by the House of Commons library, the average UK hourly wage rate has fallen 5.5 per cent since mid-2010, adjusted for inflation, the fourth-worst decline amongst the 27 EU nations.
And despite a largely positive picture for job growth published by the CIPD on Monday, employers do not expect wage growth to accelerate significantly. Among those employers planning a pay review in the twelve months to February 2014, the average anticipated settlement for basic pay (excluding bonuses) was 1.7 per cent, unchanged from the previous quarter.
As the CIPD pointed out in its report, many employees are reluctant to change job roles so those employers advertising vacancies are finding them a challenge to fill. Given the decidedly mixed jobs picture painted by the unions, the opposition and government statistics, it’s small wonder why many workers would prefer to stick rather than twist.