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Temporary contracts over time

Key points

  • Both the number of temporary contracts and involuntary temporary contracts were at their highest on the available data in 2014, at 240,000 of which 86,000 were involuntary.
  • In 2014, temporary contracts made up around 6% of all employment in London.
  • 35% of temporary contracts were involuntary in 2014, a broadly similar figure to 2012 and 2013.

Temporary contracts over time

What does this graph show?

This graph looks at temporary contracts, which can be a manifestation of insecurity at work. Temporary employment contracts can suit people, for example students over a summer break, but can also be as a result of failing to find a permanent job. Both the number of temporary contracts and involuntary temporary contracts were at their highest on the available data in 2014, at 240,000 of which 86,000 were involuntary. Involuntary refers to those where the worker has only taken a temporary contract because they could not find a permanent job. This element of the labour market has not improved in the last few years, unlike most others, though an unwanted temporary contract is likely to be preferable to unemployment. In 2014, temporary contracts made up around 6% of all employment in London.

35% of temporary contracts were involuntary in 2014, a broadly similar figure to 2012 and 2013. This proportion increased sharply during the recession, and had been fairly stable at around a quarter of all temporary contracts in the pre-recession years. Another way to think about this increase is that between 2004 and 2014, the number of temporary contracts increased by 40,000 or 20%. The number of involuntary temporary contracts increased by around 38,800 or 81% over this same period. In other words, almost the entire increase in temporary employment contracts over this period was among people who would have preferred a permanent position.

London experienced a sharper increase in this type of work than the rest of England. The percentage increase in the number of temporary contracts in the rest of London was 15% rather than 20%, and the increase in involuntary temporary contracts was 61% rather than 80%.

Data used

Regional Labour Market Statistics, ONS.

Indicator last updated: 21 October 2015