Part-time jobs help boost UK employment

Julian Harris
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number of people out of work in the UK has fallen, official figures showed yesterday.

Unemployment fell by 9,000 in the three months to September. The total unemployment rate remains unchanged, at 7.7 per cent, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The number of claimants – people out of work and receiving benefits – also fell, dropping by 3,700.

The total number of people in employment increased 167,000 on the previous quarter, and by 320,000 people in the last two quarters – the highest growth rate since the late 1980s.

Yet employment minister Chris Grayling warned that 5m people are still claiming out of work benefits. “We have to get our labour force ready for the recovery and our benefit claimants ready for the workplace”, he said.

Much of the recent improvements have been driven by part time work. In the 12 months leading to the latest figures, part time jobs grew by 4.2 per cent, while full time jobs fell by 0.2 per cent.

Average earnings for July to September were below inflation, up just two per cent on last year. Yet despite real earnings declining, there are signs of a business-driven recovery. “If the labour market remains flexible and onerous regulations are scrapped or at least suspended, the private sector should eventually be able to absorb the temporary job losses created by the fiscal austerity plan”, said David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).