One claim in the Labour manifesto immediately caught the FactCheck team’s eye, Patrick Worrall reports:
“Too many have been driven from secure, full-time work into precarious, badly-paid jobs.”
If this is supposed to mean that there has been a major shift in the labour market from full-time to part-time work, that is not borne out by the official employment stats.
If you look at the latest figures put out by the Office for National Statistics, the total number of people working part-time has gone up since just before the last election – by 6 per cent.
But the number of people working full-time has gone up by slightly more – 6.7 per cent.
There are 472,000 more people working part time than there were in February to April 2010, and about 1.4 million more people working full time. The ratio is almost identical.
As we found in a recent FactCheck, the overall jobs mix – the proportion of part-time compared to full-time and temporary compared to permanent – has only changed slightly.
Labour say – correctly – that about 1.3 million people are working part-time because they can’t find a full-time job. That’s just over 16 per cent of part-time workers – but this is the lowest percentage since 2011.
None of this tells us how much of the rise in employment we have seen since the last election is low-paid. Self-employed people are a growing proportion of the workforce and their earnings are not covered by the official statistics.
Labour are keen to hammer home their proposed reforms of much-maligned zero-hour contracts too. But the party is having to be more careful about the way it talks about them.
It’s right to say that there are 1.8 million zero-hours contracts, but the ONS has made it very clear that the official statistics are complicated and cannot be used to suggest that the number has shot up on David Cameron’s watch.
The chair of the UK Statistics Authority gave Labour a slap on the wrist for making just that suggestion in a press release last year.