How should we take part-time work into account when thinking about the employment rate?
The number of people in work is back to its pre-recession peak, which the government is unsurprisingly pleased with. But there’s been a shift from full-time jobs to part-time, which means that the total number of hours worked per week hasn’t risen so much:
Then, of course, you have to remember that the population is growing, including the large part of it that makes up the labour force (the people with jobs plus the people who are looking for jobs). So a simple rise in numbers isn’t the same as the rise in the employment rate – the rate has recovered a bit, but it’s still well short of its previous peak.
Putting these two thoughts together leads me to this chart. It shows the total number of hours worked divided by the total size of the labour force – in other words, how much work the average person who wants work is getting:
There has been pretty much no change since 2009. The rise in employment since the election averages out as an extra 2 minutes and 43 seconds of work per person per week. This compares with almost an hour and a half lost in the recession.
Data from the ONS.