The number of ‘under-employed’ workers in the North East has increased by 16% since the last election, figures reveal.
The underemployed are people who want to work more hours in their present job, like those in a part-time role who want to go full-time.
Analysis by the TUC from the Labour Force Survey shows that since the May 2010 election, under-employment has also gone up more than 20,000, from 127,578 to 148,368 in this region.
The fastest increase, from 9,000 to 11,500, has been among self-employed people who say they are under-employed - a 127% rise.
The TUC says this shows that despite talk of a recovery, continual real wage falls mean more people than ever are looking for extra hours to make ends meet.
North East TUC regional secretary Beth Farhat said: “Ministers have made much of the UK’s improving jobs figures as a sign that all is now well with the economy. But here in the North East we have suffered the double whammy of rising joblessness and under-employment.
“There are now over 20,000 more people who would like to be working more hours than they are.
“As the squeeze on pay continues, many people don’t have enough money for everyday essentials, let alone the cash to cover any unexpected emergencies.
“With no let up in their financial woes in sight, people are understandably looking to take on more hours just to keep the wolf from the door.
“Without a decent pay rise and the creation of more permanent, secure jobs, under-employment is unlikely to fall any time soon.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman claimed the TUC’s figures were misleading.
He said: “Independent statistics show that there are over 100,000 fewer people who say they are under-employed compared to a year ago, and that full-time jobs account for more than three quarters of the rise in employment since 2010.
“The proportion of part-time workers wanting a full-time job has just seen the biggest annual fall in over two decades.
“The overwhelming majority of those working part-time do so because it suits their circumstances, for example students or those with caring or parenting responsibilities. “
However, when contacted further and asked if the DWP disputed the TUC’s North East figures, there was no further reply.