Karen Allen

I fought South Shields at the May 2010 General Election for the Conservatives, gaining a 6.4% swing which was a 4% vote increase. The Conservatives polled 7,886 up from 5,207 in 2005. I was born in the North East and grew up in South Shields. I currently live in London and am employed as a Director at Lloyd's Broker Howden International.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

2.8m People Underemployed

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has found that from July to September 2009, 2.8 million people were underemployed – that’s one in ten (9.9 per cent) of all people in employment. This figure is of course in addition to the 2.5m who are unemployed - who have no job at all.

This is an interesting statistic which has not generally been monitored or reported on previously - but it is of course very relevant to our current economic climate. The definition of "underemployment" used by the ONS is ‘where a person wants to work more hours than is usual or stated under their current employment contract.’ The count is made up of employed people who were looking for an additional job, people looking for a replacement job with longer hours and people who want to work longer hours in their current job.

The figure is, I suspect, mostly made up of part-time workers - of which there are more than ever. Of course flexibility in the work place is very important and I do welcome the increase of part time positions. Many Mothers wanting to go back to work, those in education or people with disabilities are specifically looking for part time work only and it's a good thing we have more part time positions available. But there are also many people who are taking part time jobs, because full time positions are not available. The increase in the number of people in part time positions (who may have previously been unemployed) but want full time positions then conveniently massages the unemployment figure - the underemployment figure being a much more accurate reflection of our current situation of unemployment.

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