Under-employment one of the hidden problems of the economic crisis

Citizens Advice Scotland have said too many working Scots are struggling in low-paid and unsatisfying jobs which don’t meet their financial needs and which have a negative impact on their health and relationships.

As the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee prepares to examine the issue on Wednesday and consider a report from Prof David Bell which shows Scotland’s under-employment rate is over 10% per cent, CAS has said that those affected include recent graduates, 25% of whom told CAS in a survey last year that they were working but ‘under-employed’.

Citizens Advice Scotland’s chief executive Margaret Lynch says,

“We know that hundreds of thousands of Scots can’t get work at all, and many are seeing cuts to their income in the benefit reforms. But having a job doesn’t necessarily solve your financial problems. Far too many of those who are in work are struggling in low-paid, temporary and unsatisfying jobs which don’t meet either their aspirations or their ability to pay the bills. These people don’t show up in the unemployment figures, but they are often just as badly hit as many of those who are out of work. This is one of the great hidden problems of our economic crisis.

“While this problem affects people right across society, one of the most worrying aspects of it is the number of graduates who are in this position. Last year we undertook a major survey on this. 1,000 Scottish graduates responded, and 25% of them said they were working, but under-employed, or in low-paid jobs that did not require a degree. Of these, only 15% were confident of getting a degree-level job in future.

“Many of the under-employed people we see have talked very openly to us about how their situation makes them feel. It commonly affects their confidence, their self-worth, their health and relationships, as well as their financial situation. For younger people in particular, it can stall their whole development – for example by delaying the point at which they can afford to leave home and buy their own house. And many have to top up their income by turning to high-interest lenders like payday loans, which gets them into a spiral of crisis debt.

“We hope the Scottish Parliament will look very carefully at this issue, and consider all the evidence that we and others have put forward. Unemployment is a huge problem, and those without work need all the help and support they can get. But the problems of those who are under-employed must also be recognised.”