The number of people doing part-time and temporary work has hit its highest level since the early days of the pandemic, according to new analysis by Indeed Flex, the online marketplace for flexible workers.
The number of people working part-time or in temporary positions climbed past 9.8 million at the end of April — the highest figure since June 2020. The number of people working part-time now also exceeds eight million — a figure last seen in August 2020.
The overwhelming majority of those working part-time are doing so because they prefer it to working full-time. The most recent ONS Labour Force Survey revealed that 70% of part-timers do not want a full-time job. A further 14% of part-timers are students who fit work around their studies, 11% say they can’t find a full-time job and 4% do part-time jobs because they are ill or disabled.
The popularity of part-time work is making it harder for employers to fill full-time roles, and comes as the number of vacancies across the UK sits at a record high of 1.3 million.
The proportion of adults not seeking work – and classified as economically inactive – also reached 21.3% in April, further exacerbating these challenges.
Meanwhile data released by Indeed Flex suggests many workers are becoming increasingly interested in temporary, rather than permanent, jobs.
The number of workers signing up to the Indeed Flex platform to find temporary work was 178.5% higher in May 2022 compared to the same month last year.
While the sharp year-on-year rise is due in part to the full re-opening, and resulting growth, of the economy over the past 12 months, Indeed Flex’s research suggests many temps are motivated by the desire to choose their working hours and the days they work. The cost of living crisis may also be leading people to take on temporary work as a way to supplement their income.
The number of workers with second jobs has also been steadily increasing, with 5.8% more people having second jobs in March 2022 compared to the same month the previous year.
An Indeed Flex survey of 1,000 workers on lower incomes found that 23% are currently looking for temporary work, while an additional 40% say they might start looking for temporary work within the next year.
A similar survey of educated younger people aged 18-24 found 29% are currently looking for temporary work and 37% might start looking for it within the next year.
Novo Constare, COO and Co-founder of Indeed Flex, said: “The post-pandemic evolution of the jobs market continues, with the high popularity of part-time and temporary work piling extra pressure on employers who were already struggling to fill thousands of full-time or permanent roles.
“Perhaps most striking of all is that for a significant majority of part-time workers, it’s a lifestyle choice. Seven out of 10 part-timers do so because they want to, not because they are unable to find a full-time job.
“On the jobs front-line we’re also seeing a surge in interest in temporary roles, with an increasing number of workers drawn to the flexibility that temping offers, and the freedom to fit work around their lifestyle, rather than the other way around.
“Meanwhile as the cost of living crisis bites deeper, temping is increasingly appealing to those who already have a job but want to top up their income by taking on extra shifts elsewhere.
“At the same time, temporary workers are proving a lifeline for the many businesses unable to find enough staff to fill their vacant roles. For them, temps offer an efficient way to cover staff absences and fill shifts at short notice.”
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