The gig economy and labour market insecurity

Researchers: Ken Clark and Nico Ochmann

This work package examines the access of BME groups to the labour market and to good jobs and it analyses their particular vulnerability to the business cycle. The International Labour Organization definition of “good work”, alongside considerations of the fairness of remuneration, job security, social protection and possibilities for development, emphasises equality of treatment. We seek to document how inequality of outcome and/or treatment characterises the experience of BME groups in the British labour market. We will outline differences in the likelihood of holding precarious or non-standard jobs across ethnic groups and across gender and region. In doing so, we construct an empirical counterpart to the theoretical definition of good/decent jobs and estimate statistical models which lay bare the ethnic patterning of labour market advantage and disadvantage.

Further, given the current economic downturn due to the COVID-19 crisis, we look at how ethnic minorities have fared during past recessions to assess the likely experience of these vulnerable groups during and after the health crisis. We will show the extent to which the negative labour market consequences of a contraction of aggregate demand may be multiplied for people in particular types of occupation or who have lower attachment to the labour force. This exercise will provide insights into the likely consequences of the post-pandemic economic contraction and suggest to policymakers where investment in the labour market protections or in out of work support are likely to have the biggest impact on welfare.

In our statistical work, we will use the quarterly UK Labour Force Survey and the 5-Quarter UK Labour Force Panel as well as the Understanding Society data set.