Underemployment in Northern Ireland

Posted on August 19, 2015 by Paul Mac Flynn

Publication cover - Quarterly Economic Observer, Summer2015
Cover image for Quarterly Economic Observer, Summer2015

In June of this year the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency released a paper on the subject of underemploymentent in Northern Ireland. Underemploymnet has become a key policy issue of late due to improving conditions in the labour market. As the paper sets out, underemployment is defined as

"A person who is in employment, working less than 48 hours per week, would like to work more hours and is available to start in the next fortnight."

The NERI Quarterly Economic Indicator 1.5b profiles underemployment in Northern Ireland using the only regularly published data from the Labour Force Survey, namely those in part-time employment who wish to have full-time employment. This is an imperfect measure as there are many underemployed workers that would class themselves as full-time but still seek additional hours of work. A set out in the Summer 2015 Quarterly Economic Facts some 34,000 workers were in part-time positions in Q1 of 2015 because they could not find full-time employment. The recent NISRA research paper adds to this group, 19,000 full-time workers in need of more hours, bringing the total underemployed to 54,000.

This newly released data also shows that young people and female workers are more likely to be underemployed. It is hoped that this consolidated measure of underemployment will in future be published on a regular quarterly basis along with all other Labour Force Survey data.

Posted in: JobsNorthern Ireland

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