The Insecure Economy: Measuring and Understanding the Contemporary Labour Market

Following the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, a new report by the Centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS) and Autonomy Think Tank looks at the explosion of employment insecurity over the past 17 years. 

The report found insecurity to have increased across almost every industry, region, age group and gender, with the worst hit sector – hospitality – seeing an 107% increase since 2005. Research also revealed that women are 25% more insecure than men, while the average 20-year-old is 4.6 times more insecure than the average 60-year-old.

Through a multi-factor approach to measuring insecurity, the report uses a novel methodology to highlight how zero-hours, tiny-hours and temporary contracts are all on the rise, along with bogus and forced self-employment. Meanwhile, practices such as zero-hour contracts and app-work that have been normalised in the so-called ‘gig economy’ have spread to other sectors such as healthcare and education.

The research also comes with the release of a new online tool – the Insecurity Index – which calculates a single number through which employment insecurity can be measured. Any individual can use the Insecurity Index to establish how insecure their employment position is compared to the labour market as a whole.

The report lays bare how job insecurity impacts every aspect of people’s lives, from maintaining relationships to where in the country they are able to live, revealed through case studies on three sectors; hospitality, care and academia. It makes a number of recommendations across three main themes; strategic legislation, legislative change and organising. Crucially, the report calls for job insecurity to replace unemployment as the key metric for measuring the health of the Labour Market.