By 'underemployment' is meant those who are in work, but for fewer hours than they'd desire. Usually it refers to part-time workers who wish to go full-time. There is a simple graph covering the years from 2000 to the present (2013); but as I don't know its copyright status I am just providing a link to it.
The figures are interesting, though, especially when separated out into those for the Labour years in government and those from when the Coalition took over during 2010. As the majority of that was in the Coalition period, I am including that year's figure in their table below. Note that, for fairly obvious reasons, there is a lag between a government's actions affecting the nation's economy and its impact on underemployment (among other things it affects).
UPDATE 6 November: the lag effect also shows clearly in the employment percentage data, as this graph covering the best part of three decades shows. When one puts in mental markers where the government changed, and checks the trends leading up to those points, it all drops into place.
Here, then, are the figures (in millions of employees) for the Labour years from 2000, thus starting at what I understand was the tail-end of the reduction in underemployment levels inherited from the John Major government...
- 2000 – 2·1
- 2001 – 1·8
- 2002 – 1·9
- 2003 – 1·8
- 2004 – 1·8
- 2005 – 1·8
- 2006 – 1·9
- 2007 – 2·0
- 2008 – 2·1
- 2009 – 2·7
Now for the Coalition Government years, to date...
- 2010 – 2·7
- 2011 – 2·8
- 2012 – 3·0
- 2013 – 3·1
This is really good news, as this is perhaps underestimated as an economic indicator. While not at big as the headline-grabbers, it should nonetheless be heeded and not pushed largely out of the national awareness.
I for one shall be watching this in future years, and periodically noting trends and progress. The present change not only of trend line but of 'gut feel' is what expects under a Conservative government, even one in coalition, so all this isn't exactly a surprise. It is, though, still a valuable ingredient in building up one's mental picture of how our economy is shaping up and where it is heading.