Views of job security
However consistently people rate their personal happiness, we can still expect their opinions about the state of the economy and other employment-related issues to vary over time. For example, when asked how satisfied they are "with the present state of the economy in Britain" on a scale from 0 to 10, people in work give an average score of 3.5; considerably lower than the average of 5.4 recorded among those in work in 2004. The views of men on the economy were more positive than those of women in 2004 (an average of 5.7 compared with 5.0), but the two have since converged (both 3.5 in 2010).
Those in paid work were also asked whether the organisation they work for had experienced changes or difficulties over recent years. Fifty-three per cent of employees say that their place of work has experienced "a great deal of financial difficulty" in the past three years. Reductions in staffing levels are also widely reported, with 39 per cent saying that the number of people employed by the organisation they work for has decreased in the last three years. This compares with 19 per cent who say the workforce in their workplace has expanded. People in work are also more likely to report having experienced a spell of unemployment in the previous five years (49 per cent) than they were in 2004 (42 per cent).
Not surprisingly, given rising experience of recent unemployment and increased awareness among workers of job losses and financial difficulties at work, there is also evidence that people's sense of job insecurity has increased. For example, British Social Attitudes has asked employees since 2005 to say whether they think it would be "difficult or easy" for their employer to replace them if they left. Comparing 2005 with 2010 there has been an increase from 33 per cent to 38 per cent in the proportion who say it would be "easy" or "very easy" to replace them. Women (42 per cent) are more likely to say this than men (34 per cent).
The European Social Survey, meanwhile, invites people who are in work to say whether it is true that their current job is secure. As shown in Table 6.2, only a quarter (23 per cent) say that it is "very true" that their current job is secure, down from a third (32 per cent) in 2004. We can also see that the decline in perceived job security has been almost entirely experienced by women. In 2004, 22 per cent of women thought it "a little true" or "not at all true" that their job was secure, compared with 34 per cent of men. In the latest survey the equivalent figures are 34 per cent for female workers and 33 per cent for male workers.
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- British Social Attitudes and European Social Survey analysis excludes Northern Ireland, whereas OECD data are based on the whole UK. Various terms are used in this chapter to refer to people in paid work (for example, "workers", "people in paid work", and "employed people"). They all denote everyone who is either an employee or is self-employed, who usually works 10 hours or more a week, and who considers work to be their main activity.
- Part-time work was defined as working less than 35 hours per week.
- Bases for Table 6.5 are as follows:
- The fourth Work-Life Balance Employee Survey was conducted by NatCen Social Research for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
- This includes people who say they "always", "often", "sometimes" or "hardly ever" do this, but excludes those who say they "never" do.
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