Are Zero-Hour Contracts Easing Unemployment?
The unemployment rate dropped rapidly over the past year and it now stands at 6.9%
But while it has fallen, concern has grown that the roles being created are the "wrong kind of jobs".
And it certainly would not help the economy, nor consumer confidence, if indeed insecure, temporary, and low paid work was bringing down the rate of joblessness.
Those roles would not afford workers confidence in their financial futures. That would dampen consumer spending and create economic instability.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has now revealed the first employer based estimate of how many workers in the UK are on contracts with no guaranteed hours or income.
There are 1.4 million zero-hours contracts (ZHCs) out there. That means about 4% of the UK workforce has no guarantees.
TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady calls the contracts "worrying" and warns they can "hold back careers and make it harder to pay off debts".
True. If most of the jobs on offer in Britain today were reduced to ZHCs it would indeed be worrying.
Yet the average hours worked per week on these contracts is not zero - it is 25 hours. That is a day and a half less than full-time employment.
At the same time, the ONS research reveals ZHCs are mostly taken up by the young; by students, by women, by carers and by the over 65s.
These contracts are also concentrated in mobile, seasonal industries like tourism, food and hospitality.
These are groups and businesses that often require flexibility in working terms.
Rather tellingly, of those on contracts with no guarantees, only 14% said they were looking for more work.
According to the ONS, that indicates the majority of these workers are content with the terms of their shorter working week.
Nonetheless, the agency plans to undertake further research on average wages and the numbers of workers holding multiple contracts and report their findings later this year.
But for an economy like Britain's, which earns three quarters of its national income from selling all sorts of services to the world at large, flexibility is a good thing.