We are used to talking in terms of the employed and the unemployed, but what about those who are workers, but don’t get to work as much as they’d like? These workers are called the underemployed and their number has grown by one million (43.7%) since the economic downturn in 2008. The Office for National Statistics says “Nearly two-thirds of the 1 million increase took place in the 12 months between 2008 and 2009, when the economy was in recession.”
The ONS also reports that while 15% of the underemployed wish they could get a replacement job with more hours and 9% want a second job in addition to their first, 76% are asking for more hours in their current job.
- An employer may only be able to offer limited hours
- A worker may be in a job that only lends itself to certain hours of the day, e.g. bar staff can only work when the bar is open
- Self-employed workers may have low hours of work as a result of low demand for their skills or services
- Economic or personal conditions may change, increasing the desire for hours in work
- Poor economic conditions may result in more people looking for jobs but fewer jobs being created. This may cause people to settle for “second-choice jobs” as an alternative to unemployment and a route into getting more hours in the future. For example a worker may settle for a part-time role even though they actually want a full-time one.
Part-time workers are more likely to be underemployed, as are lower wage workers, younger demographics, and low-skilled or “elementary” occupation workers.
As we’ve pointed out many times, it is absolutely crucial, not only for employers but also for further and higher education institutions, to understand the labour market in their region. Such a high level of underemployment reinforces the need for a system that develops skills to meet the current and future needs of the labour market.
If the skills of the labour market are better aligned with the needs of employers in their locality, the result will be more efficient and less likely to contain so much underemployed resource. To achieve this, education providers need tools and intelligence at their disposal to understand how their local labour market is expected to change. Only then can they provide courses that meet this skills demand.
With Analyst, we provide our unique labour market data to colleges and businesses so that they can plan for the future. With the right insight, colleges can provide courses to prepare workers for the labour market that they can expect to join when they graduate. Underemployment is just one symptom of the larger problem of labour market uncertainty. A well-informed economy is a healthy one.
To learn more about EMSI data or what EMSI products can do for you, please contact Andy Durman.