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Jobs market is in decline with 500,000 more workers in insecure employment, study warns

BRITAIN’S job market is in decline after more than 500,000 workers moved into “severely insecure” employment last year, a new think tank report warns today.

The Work Foundation at Lancaster University found that the number of workers with highly unstable jobs grew to 6.8 million — 21.4 per cent of the active labour market — including a record 1.45 million disabled workers.

Spikes in insecure work were mostly being seen in the wholesale and retail sectors, along with the professional and scientific sectors, and hospitality, the think tank said.

Its latest UK Insecure Work Index data found that three in five of those who moved into the jobs characterised by low pay, unpredictable hours and without employment rights and protections were women. 

Indian, African and Caribbean workers were the ethnicities worst affected, with workers aged 18-24 now twice as likely than older workers aged 50-65 to be in severely insecure work, it found.

Work Foundation director Ben Harrison said: “People in severely insecure work not only face the stress of unpredictable hours and lack fundamental employment protections, they also risk being stuck in low pay — and are therefore particularly vulnerable to persistently high inflation. 

“Our research suggests many end up in insecure work because they’re forced to trade security for flexibility in order to manage childcare, long-term health conditions or other commitments.” 

Disability Rights UK’s head of policy Fazilet Hadi said: “This is yet more evidence that disabled people are some of the poorest in society, with millions of us being forced to live on inadequate social security payments and or low wages from unstable and insecure work.”

Linda Burnip, founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, added: “It comes as no surprise to see which groups of people are at the greatest disadvantage in terms of only having insecure work.

“This research makes a mockery of the government’s plans to force more disabled people into the workforce as a ‘means of lifting them out of poverty’.”

Dr Zubaida Haque of the Women’s Budget Group said the data “is a stark reminder of the glaring gender inequalities within the UK labour market.”

She added: “The cumulative impact of persistent labour market inequalities, unjust economic measures, as well as skyrocketing childcare costs is that women are more than twice as likely to find themselves in precarious employment compared to men, given no option but to accept low wages and being deprived of essential rights and protections.”

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