A steady job? The UK’s record on labour market security and stability since the millennium

Published on Jobs, Skills and Pay

The story on pay is well-established but other aspects of job quality are less routinely measured. Therefore, in this note we return to some commonly-used broad measures of job security and stability, in particular to understand developments over the past two decades and how experiences have differed across genders and the generations.

  • Job stability – as measured by median employment tenure – has risen over the past two decades. This has been driven by more women returning to the same employer after having children, and older people staying in work for longer.
  • Job mobility – the rate at which people move between jobs – is falling. This may well signal possible progression and promotion blockages in the labour market, which could hinder the career prospects of young people and risks permanently scarring their earnings.
  • The report finds no evidence of rising job insecurity – a broader measure which includes an assessment of contract terms, pay and hours. However, there is evidence that a sizeable minority are facing particularly acute forms of precariousness. Insecurity appears to have deepened rather than broadened.
  • Finally, the overall picture on security and stability masks big differences between the genders and generations. For older workers and particularly women the trend has been towards more secure and stable employment; for young people things are moving in the wrong direction.