The growth in part-time work

Posted on December 13, 2012 by Micheál Collins

In the current edition of Mandate's regular publication, Shopfloor, I have an article highlighting the growth in part-time work over recent years. In it I highlight some of the material from the recent NERI conference on the unemployment crisis. The key points are:

While the headline figures on job losses tend to receive a lot of attention (over 300,000 jobs have been lost since 2007), the growth in the number of workers who are working but on reduced hours has been significant.

Comparing the distribution of those employed by hours worked over the past five years (2007-2012) shows increases in the number of individuals in all categories working less than 35 hours per week and decreases among those on full-time hours (35 hours plus) - see the table in the article. While much of this change is likely to be derived from those experiencing the loss of a full-time job, the increase in the prevalence of reduced hours of work is noticeable and has some implications for the likely nature and pace of job creation in the future. Overall, there was a 21% drop in full-time employment (-359,000 workers) and a 15% increase in part-time employment (+56,500 workers).

There has been a notable growth in underemployment - something which has become more commonplace in the retail, hospitality and administrative sector. Underemployment measures the number of part-time workers who are willing and available to work more hours than they currently have. This has increased by almost 50% since 2008 and there are now 135,200 workers classified as underemployed.

The scale of underemployment points towards two issues. First, when economic growth returns, reductions in unemployment numbers will be slow given that many of the early beneficiaries of additional work will be those already at work and seeking additional hours. Second, the structure of employers PRSI may be trapping some low-paid workers in underemployment - a feature of employment structures which is unsustainable and should change.

The article in Shopfloor is available here

Papers from the NERI Unemployment conference are available here.

Posted in: GenderIncomeInequalityJobs

Digital Revolutionaries