Figures published by the Office for National
Statistics this month (covering the period to May
2010) show that part-time working now accounts for
27% of jobs in the UK, the highest ever level.
The rise accounts for most of the the first increase
in overall employment since the UK slid into
recession in 2008.
There are now 7.8 million part-time workers out
of a working population of 29 million. Three
quarters of part-time workers are women, but the
number of male part-timers has risen by 10% over the
recession, with the number of women rising 3%.
A quarter of male part-timers say that they are
working part-time because they could not find a
full-time job, as opposed to 10% of women.
Overall, the number of people who say they take part
time work because they can't find a full-time one
has risen from 9% to 14% since 2008.
Will it last?
This leaves the question open as to whether the
numbers may fall again as we emerge from recession.
The signs are that we will not be emerging from the
recession very fast. And with the axe poised
to fall across the public sector, it may be that
reduced hours working will increase as public sector
employers try to retain valued workers while cutting
On the other hand, the Trades Union Congress
(TUC) has warned that women's jobs are in the firing
line if there are extensive cuts to public services,
many of which are part-time.
They may be right. However, there has been
an extensive squeeze in the public sector already as
in all other sectors, yet the numbers of part-time
workers have continued to rise.