As the Conservatives said yesterday, 1.9 million more people were in work at the latest count than in the three months prior to the election. This isn't the most helpful measure since there are also increasing numbers of people in the UK. But the employment rate (for people aged 16-64) is also at a record high of just above 73%.
So what types of work are the people behind the rise doing? The 1.9 million increase can be broken down a number of ways:
- There were 1.3 million more employees and 600,000 more people who were self-employed.
- There were 1.4 million more full-time workers and 500,000 more part-time workers.
- There were 400,000 fewer public sector employees, and 2.3 million more private sector employees.
Why we don't know how many were on zero-hour contracts
It's difficult to say what proportion of the increase was made up by zero hour contracts. The equivalent figures on zero-hour contracts aren't comparable over time because they're based on surveys of employees, more of whom may be becoming more aware of being on a zero-hour contract than they were in the past (for example due to increased discussion in the media).
So a rise in the number of people saying they're on a zero-hour contract may not mean any more people are actually on them.
The latest estimate of the number of people whose main employment is a zero-hour contract is 697,000. That represents 1 in 43 people in employment (2.3%). We have more detail on zero-hour contracts in our briefing.
A note on our calculations
In all cases we're comparing the latest available figures (for the three months from November 2014 to January 2015) to the three month period before the last election (February-April 2010). They're from the Office for National Statistics' Labour Market Statistics release and their zero-hour contracts release.
The integrity of our elections is in danger, and we need your help
You’re probably here looking for facts. Thank you for that trust. But with the EU parliament elections on the way and more elections a possibility, we need to act now to make sure our elections are protected, before it’s too late.
Could you help protect our elections by becoming a Full Fact donor?
Misinformation isn’t new, but advancements in technology mean it can spread at an unprecedented scale. Our dangerously outdated election laws have not kept up with the digital age, putting our next elections at risk of abuse.
Currently, it’s possible for a candidate to run a thousand different political ads to win the same seat, promising something different to each group it targets. At the same time, there’s no law requiring those who publish online campaigns to disclose who they are or how they are funded. The opportunity for bad actors to manipulate election results is left wide open.
You may already know about our work to make public debate online more honest and transparent. Every day, we call out the most harmful misinformation on social media platforms when and where we see it. But right now, we’re urging the government to overhaul our election laws to make sure political campaigning is held to the same level of scrutiny online as it is offline.
This work all depends on the generosity of hundreds of people who all believe that for democracy to work, we need transparency. Our monthly donors help strengthen our voice, and show our politicians that this really matters. Would you consider joining them?
Become a donor today to make sure our elections are protected.