October Labour Market Update

The October labour market update takes a closer look at the increase of part-time employment.

Briefing published on 17 October 2012 by Paul Swinney

Employment continues to rise

On the eve of the release of economic growth figures for  the third quarter of 2012 the UK’s labour market continues to be relatively buoyant. Employment increased by 212,000 in the three months to August, while unemployment fell by 50,000.

Recent tends in the labour market mean that the continued growth in employment is not necessarily a good predictor of the outcome of next week’s GDP figures. But it is difficult to see how employment can continue to rise while the economy contracts, and so the sustained recent rise in employment will add further weight to the expectation that the UK economy returned to growth between July and September.

The added impact of the Olympics – all Olympics ticket sales will be counted in the GDP figures for Q3 – could help to pull the UK out of double dip recession. If this is the case, the next challenge to the UK economy will be whether it can sustain this growth.

The rise and rise of part-time working

Once again part time working made up the bulk of the increase in employment seen in the three months to August 2012. While full time employment increased by 88,000, part time working increased by 125,000.

The large recent increase in part time working is nothing new. – part time working has increased by 724,000 over the last five years at a time when full time working has fallen by 355,000.

What is more surprising is the gender make-up of the increase employment over the last three months. Of the 95,000 increase in male employment, 84 percent was in full time employment. But of the 118,000 increase in female employment, just 7 percent was in full time work.

Labour market update, latest data