More women working full time as part-time jobs and self-employment falls

The latest Office for National Statistics figures show unemployment and redundancies rose during the three months to September, with part-time work and self-employment most affected.

Part-time business concept


Unemployment rose to 4.8% in the three months to September, mainly driven by decreases in part-time workers and self employment, according to the latest statistics from the Office for National Statistics.

It says the number of part-time workers fell by 158,000 on the quarter to 8.11 million and that the number of self-employed people was down 174,000 to 4.53 million, with a record 99,000 decrease for women. However, those falls were partly offset by a rise in full-time employees – up to 21.17 million – driven by women. The number of women working full time rose by 165,000 on the quarter to 8.72 million while the number of men working full time decreased by 53,000 to 12.45 million, the first quarterly decrease since March to May 2019.

Unemployment was up 0.9 percentage points compared to a year earlier and was 0.7 percentage points higher than the previous quarter. Redundancies stood at 314,000, up 181,000 on the previous three-month period. The figures show 33,000 fewer people were on payroll in October compared to September and that 782,000 fewer were on payroll since March. Women’s employment was slightly up on last year while men’s had fallen by 1.7%, but unemployment was up on last year for both men and women. Economic inactivity, which includes carers and stay-at-home parents, was slightly up for men and down for women on the year. The claimant count was slightly down in October, compared to September.

The number of job vacancies was also down  278,000 on last year, but up 146,000 compared to the previous three months. Average pay, excluding bonuses, rose by 1.9%.

Self employment campaigners remarked on the fall in self employment and said it was evidence of the holes in support for some self employed people, including directors of limited companies who have missed on out the Self Employment Income Support Scheme.

Derek Cribb, CEO of IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed), said: After the 2008 financial crisis, it was rising self-employed numbers that kept unemployment comparatively low – as uncertain employers looked for more flexible expertise instead of permanent employees. Now, this does not appear to be happening and the self-employed sector is in precipitous decline. Some self-employed are finding their way into full-time roles, but many others are joining the record flow into unemployment.

“Government must work quickly to stem this flow by urgently getting support to the left-behind self-employed groups. Extending support would be a cost now, yes, but it would be a temporary cost during the pandemic, to hold back an even worse unemployment problem later.”

The Institute for Employment Studies highlighted rising redundancy levels, particularly for the young and expressed concerns about hiring rates continuing to fall through the summer, which it said was linked to uncertainty not just around Covid but also Brexit.  It anticipates that things will deteriorate under the second lockdown and concerns about the Brexit outcome.

The IES is calling on the Chancellor to look urgently at measures to get hiring going again – in particular by raising the National Insurance threshold so as to reduce labour taxes for firms and by boosting departmental budgets so that public sector employment can increase as private sector hiring falls.

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