As unemployed claimants rise in Oldham, ‘underemployment’ needs tackling too

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) claimant count figures show that unemployment is disproportionately affecting Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency with over 2,790 claimants classed as unemployed.

Oldham, which has been a Universal Credit Full Service area since April 2017, has an unemployment rate of 5.9% which is significantly above the UK claimant rate of 2.8% and also the UK unemployment rate of 4.0% in April to June 2018.

The Government’s industrial strategy is having as much success as the so-called Northern Powerhouse. Much more needs to be done to encourage investment in the North and North West so that Oldham can take advantage of the development of high quality jobs here. 

What businesses will do that when our public transport system is failing and when there are such acute housing pressures? On top of that we have a social security system that is failing not just the jobless, but people in-work, on low pay as well. As report after report has shown, Universal Credit is not fit for purpose and is driving people into debt and poverty; it must be stopped.

The Government must also acknowledge the huge numbers of people who are underemployed, for example, the numbers of people working on zero-hours contracts, is greater now than it was in 2008 and 2009, when the country was plunged into a recession triggered by the worldwide financial crisis.

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) collects data on the number of people in employment who want more hours in their current jobs, want a replacement job with longer hours, or want additional jobs.

Of all the workers that fell in these three categories in the second quarter of 2018, from April to June, approximately 8 out of 10 wanted more hours in their current jobs, just over 1 in 10 wanted replacement jobs with longer hours and nearly 1 in 10 wanted additional jobs.

By this measurement, the number of underemployed people across the UK in the three months to June 2018 stood at 2.39 million.

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