The number of temporary employees in the UK increased slightly by 0.9% year over the year to a total of 1.54 million in the three months ended December 2018, according to data published today by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
The number of temporary employees as a percentage of total employment was 5.6%., steady compared to the same period a year ago.
The ONS figures relate to all temporary workers, not just temporary agency workers.
Compared to the three months ended in November 2018, the number of temporary employees rose by 1.1%.
Of the 1.54 million temporary employees during the period ended December 2018, approximately 408,100 were temporary because they could not find a permanent job; 458,600 did not want a permanent job; 127,100 had a contract with a period of training; and 555,500 cited other reasons.
Overall, estimates from the Labour Force Survey show that, between July to September 2018 and October to December 2018, there were an estimated 32.60 million people in work, 167,000 more than for July to September 2018 and 444,000 more than for a year earlier.
The employment rate was estimated at 75.8%, higher than for a year earlier (75.2%) and the highest since comparable estimates began in 1971.
The unemployment rate was estimated at 4.0% during the period, it has not been lower since December 1974 to February 1975.
The average weekly earnings for employees rose 3.4% year-over-year in the three months ended in December 2018, excluding bonuses and 3.4% including bonuses. However, the increase was 1.2% when adjusted for inflation (excluding bonuses) and 1.3% (including bonuses).
Meanwhile, there were an estimated 870,000 job vacancies for November 2018 to January 2019, 46,000 more than for a year earlier and the highest estimate since comparable records began in 2001.
For October to December 2018, an estimated 91,000 people had become redundant in the three months before the Labour Force Survey interviews, broadly unchanged compared with July to September 2018 but 15,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
ONS senior statistician Matt Hughes commented, “The labour market remains robust, with the employment rate remaining at a record high and vacancies reaching a new record level. The unemployment rate has also fallen, and for women has dropped below 4% for the first time ever.”
The unemployment rate for men was 4.1%, lower than the estimate for a year earlier (4.4%) while the unemployment rate for women was 3.9%, the lowest since comparable estimates began in 1971.
ONS figures during the period of October to December 2018 compared with those for a year earlier also showed that the number of UK nationals working in the UK increased by 372,000 to 29.10 million. The number of EU nationals working in the UK fell by 61,000 to 2.27 million and the number of non-EU nationals working in the UK increased by 130,000 to 1.29 million.