Beth Farhat column: Shortage of full-time jobs in North East

Regional head of the TUC says the rise of part-time working is costing the regional economy

Beth Farhat of the TUC
Beth Farhat of the TUC

The share of jobs in the North East accounted for by full-time employees fell during the recession and has failed to recover across the region, according to our new analysis.

The analysis shows that in the North East the labour market share of full-time employee jobs was 66.3% in 2007 but fell to 64.6% in 2014. This is equivalent to a shortfall of almost 20,000 full-time employee jobs.

We strongly believe that both part-time work and self-employment are important options for many people. However, despite recent economic growth, the number of part-time employees across the UK who say they want full-time hours – a whopping 1.3m people – is still double what it was before the recession.

The rise in self-employment is, at least in part, a result of people being unable to find employee jobs or being forced into false self-employment – used by some companies to evade taxes and avoid respecting employment rights and entitlements such as holiday pay, sick pay and pensions.

While more people are in work there are still far too few full-time employee jobs for everyone in the North East who wants one. It means many working families are on substantially lower incomes than they would wish to be as they can only find reduced hours of work or low-paid self-employment.

The Chancellor has said he wants full employment for the UK economy, but that means full-time jobs for everyone who wants them. At the moment there are still not enough full-time employee jobs being created in the North East to meet demand.

Next month we will launch our Decent Jobs campaign to draw attention to the millions of people in the UK who are trapped in low-paid and insecure jobs. These include more than 1.4m zero-hours contracts in use, as well as agency and other casual workers who – due to the temporary nature of their employment – often lose out on basic rights at work.

As this analysis shows, the economic recovery may be creating many new jobs, but the UK has yet to make up for the thousands of full-time, permanent jobs that were lost in the recession. It is these types of jobs that many people want but can’t get, and which are necessary if the economic recovery is to be a sustainable one.

Beth Farhat – Northern TUC Regional Secretary

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