An explosion of temporary, insecure jobs?

28 September 2016
What was claimed

There are nearly one million people on zero hours contracts.

Our verdict

Correct. That’s 3% of people in employment.

“...there’s been an explosion of temporary, insecure jobs, nearly one million people on zero hour contracts.”

Jeremy Corbyn, 28 September 2016

About 903,000 people reported that they were employed on a zero hours contract in April-June 2016—3% of people in employment. This is a rise on the estimate of 747,000 for the same time last year.

We don’t know how much of the rise over time is genuine. Increases in the numbers are likely to include at least some people who were already on the contracts but only recently became aware of this, possibly due to increased media coverage of the issue.

The only reliable data that we can use to compare over time, from surveys of businesses in 2014 and 2015, suggests there was little change in the number of contracts overall during that period.

There were 1.7 million people in temporary jobs in May to July 2016—about 6.2% of all those in work. This is about the same level it was early 2010, though it did rise to 6.6% in 2012. The highest level ever recorded was almost 8% in 1997.

In terms of whether people in these jobs would rather be working more hours, 31% of people on zero hours contracts say they want more hours, mostly in their current job. 32% of the 1.7 million people in temporary jobs say they are doing so because they can’t find a permanent job.

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