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Number of Hamilton workers in stable, full-time jobs drops

Nearly 60 per cent of Hamilton workers are in some version of precarious employment, a new report says, and the share has grown since 2011.

Share of workers in precarious employment has risen across GTA and Hamilton since 2011

A rise in freelancing and self-employment contributes to fewer people working in stable jobs with benefits, a new report finds. (iStock)

Nearly 60 per cent of Hamilton workers are in some version of precarious employment, a new report says, and the share has grown since 2011. 

The share has grown in Hamilton of workers holding temporary or contract jobs, part-time jobs, jobs without benefits beyond a wage or jobs where they're not sure they'll still be employed for at least the next year.

The report "Precarity Penalty" was published Thursday by a consortium of researchers from organizations including the United Way of Toronto and McMaster University, and studies the impacts and changes in precarious employment in the GTA and Hamilton. The data came from more than 4,000 interviews with workers between the ages of 25 and 65.

Precarious employment leads to physical and mental health problems and increases stress for workers and their families, the report argues.

"Workers in precarious employment often experience unexpected changes in their work schedule and often don't know their work schedule a week in advance," the report states. That can impact workers' ability to enroll their kids in extracurricular or make social and family plans. 

"Workers in less secure employment, regardless of their household income, are twice as likely to report that uncertainty over work schedules has a negative effect on family life," the report said. 

The study updates the dramatic findings in the group's 2013 look at precarious employment in the region. The share of workers reporting stable full-time work slipped everywhere but Halton and York across the study, but it dropped most in Hamilton. 

Meanwhile, temporary or contract employment jumped from 15 per cent to 20 per cent of workers.

A report from the United Way Toronto and McMaster University show the growth in precarious employment between 2011 and 2014. (Source: Precarity Penalty, May 2015)

Here are some of the report's other findings for 2014, across the GTA and Hamilton: 

  • Less than half, or 48 per cent, of GTA and Hamilton workers are in permanent, full-time positions that provide benefits and a degree of employment security. 
  • The percentage in what the report deems "Secure" employment is virtually unchanged from 2011, but the "Precarious" employment category grew by almost 10 per cent.

The report identifies some ideas for how the region should move forward, like making training opportunities available for workers in precarious positions and passing living wage measures. You can read the entire report here.

kelly.bennett@cbc.ca | @kellyrbennett

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