Temporary employment trends – storms ahead?
February’s Workforce Barometer report, published by the FCSA, looks at 2019 trends within temporary employment, and how they could be indicative of challenging market conditions ahead.
We have picked out some of the key facts and figures of interest in the report, and ask the question - if the temporary employment sector is a microcosm of the wider economy - could there be storms ahead?
Snapshot of the contingent workforce
Based on the most recent ONS and BEIS data, FCSA has calculated that c. 21.6% of people in the UK workforce were officially recorded as doing some sort of contingent work.
- Self-employment rose by 1.4%, with numbers of self-employed crossing the 5 million for the first time since records began.
- The average number of temporary employees dipped below 1.5 million in each of the first three quarters of 2019, a threshold that had been consistently exceeded since Q2 2010.
- The proportion of people classifyiong their work as “agency temping” declined sharply (by 10.6%) between Q2 and Q3 2019. Time will tell whether this was caused by legislative change, Brexit or the prospect of another economic shock.
- Vacancy numbers dropped in key sectors; in October-December 2019 there were 5.7% fewer than for the same period the previous year. (Notably, estimated vacancies also saw a sharp decline in the 2008/9 recession).
- Real terms (when adjusted for CPI) regular wage growth remained positive - holding at 1.8%
Commenting on what these trends may indicate, FCSA Chief Executive, Julia Kermode, said:
“Our analysis should serve as a stark indicator of the likelihood that temporary employment is – once again – the canary in an economic mine that is being influenced by factors much greater than our domestic, self-inflicted trials and tribulations. And with vacancy numbers also falling since the beginning of 2019, we may all be best advised to buckle-up.”
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