Working time in the United Kingdom: evidence from the Labour Force Survey

Quarterly Bulletin 2002 Q2
Published on 18 June 2002

By Fergal Shortall of the Bank’s Structural Economic Analysis Division.

This article examines the evolution of working time from a macroeconomic perspective using data from the Labour Force Survey. Average hours worked are still falling, after abstracting from the effects of overtime. This can largely be accounted for by the rise in the proportion of part-time workers. Above and beyond the full-time/part-time split, changes in employment composition by industry, gender, occupation, employment status and age explain little of the downward trend in average hours worked. Overtime has shifted from being paid towards being unpaid. Changes in the occupational mix can account for some of this shift. The article shows that paid overtime is the only component of hours with strong cyclicality. All other components lag GDP and in some cases lag employment too. This is consistent with aggregate changes in hours being the result of compositional effects, rather than employees in the same job changing their hours.

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