Concern at ‘temporary fix’ to unemployment problem

Yorkshire’s Labour MPs have expressed their concern at falling wages and the over-reliance of the region’s jobs market on temporary work.

While welcoming recent small falls in the overall unemployment figure, Labour has highlighted that 800,000 people – one in three workers in Yorkshire – are in part-time or temporary work.

More than a third say they’re only doing temporary work because they cannot find a permanent position.

The Party’s quarterly Jobs and Opportunities Bulletin – the third edition of which has just been published – also confirms that the cost-of-living crisis caused by wages rising more slowly than wages is continuing to get worse.

Real-term wages in the region are now almost £2,000 lower than they were in 2010, and one in four workers are earning less than the living wage (£7.65 per hour).

Annual wages in Rotherham have fallen by 12% – or more than £3,000 – between in the last three years. Pay in Barnsley has gone down more than £2,000 or 8%.

Youth and long-term unemployment in the two towns continues to increase.

The bulletin uses facts from the Office for National Statistics to examine the challenges facing Yorkshire and the Humber and considers the impact of Government policy and Labour’s alternatives on jobhunters.

Wentworth & Dearne MP John Healey leads the research project for the Yorkshire Group of Labour MPs.

He said: “The Government hails falls in jobless numbers, but this hides a varying picture around the country, falling wages and an increase in the number of people having to work part-time.

“We need more than a temporary fix to Yorkshire’s jobs market. We need the Government to do more to create permanent opportunities on decent pay.

“Labour’s plans would dramatically improve the situation. We’d give employers a tax rebate of up to £1,000 for every employee they uprate to the living wage, freeze business rates for small businesses and radically devolve power and money to the regions to build sustainable growth.”

The bulletin says:

Years of economic stagnation, exacerbated by the government’s austerity programme, has severely impacted on the quality of available work. For those lucky enough to be in work the situation is precarious. Employers are cautious and some are exploiting workers by offering positions with no job security, unpredictable hours and low wages. As the cost of living continues to rise, this leaves many working people in poverty and reliant on government support to meet basic needs.

In Yorkshire and the Humber the number of part-time and temporary workers has increased dramatically over the past few years. There are now almost 60,000 more people in part-time work than there were in 2007 and almost 40,000 more in temporary work. 170,000 people doing this type of work are looking for full-time employment but there is none available.