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Rise in part-time working as firms cut back in recession

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by Kay Mitchell

Figures released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the extent to which firms are having to cut costs as a result of the recession.

According to the ONS, in the three months to May, 927,000 people said they were being forced to work part-time because they cannot find a full-time job.

This is an increase of more than a third on a year ago and represents the highest number since the ONS started gathering the data back in 1992.

The recession has forced many employers to offer staff less hours or extended holidays in an effort to slash costs.

Last month, British Airways asked 40,000 members of staff to work for nothing in a bid to cut costs. The group’s chief executive, Willie Walsh, is working for nothing this month – giving up his monthly salary of more than £60,000.

Meanwhile, Britain’s largest accountancy firm KPMG recently offered employees the opportunity to move to a four-day week.

Car manufacturers Ford and Honda have asked staff to cut their hours, while the latter closed its Swindon plant in February for four months due to a slump in demand.

Commenting on today’s figures from the ONS, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber, said: “These people won’t be showing up in the spiralling unemployment figures but the economic slowdown and their subsequent move into part time work will have forced many of these families to rein in their spending dramatically.”

“While it’s better for these million people to be in a job than have no job at all, many will have downshifted and will be doing the same jobs that they once did full time, but for a fraction of the pay,” added Mr Barber.

Last week, the ONS revealed that UK unemployment rose by 281,000 in the three months to May – the biggest quarterly rise on record.

Unemployment in the UK has now reached 2.38 million – the highest since 1995, while the unemployment rate is up to 7.6% – the highest in over a decade.

The number of people claiming jobseekers allowance increased by 23,800 in June to 1.56 million. However, this figure was less than analysts had expected.

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News posted: July 20, 2009

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