WEYMOUTH and Portland has the highest proportion of part-time employees in the country, according to new figures.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), reveal that 41 per cent of all workers in Weymouth and Portland work part time, compared to an average of 30 to 32 per cent for England and Wales.

Business leaders have pointed to the borough having a large amount of tourism and service industry-related firms.

The newly released report, ‘Workplace population analysis, 2011 Census’, also showed West Dorset has the fifth highest proportion of 50-64 year-old workers in the local workplace population, at 32 per cent, compared to an average of 25 per cent for England and Wales as a whole.

Most Weymouth and Portland workers don’t travel outside the area for work either, as 62 per cent of employed people travelled less than 6.2 miles between their homes and workplaces.

Weymouth and Portland Mayor elect Kate Wheller, a Labour borough and county councillor said the data on part time workers was evidence that people were finding it hard to gain full time employment and earn enough money to live comfortably.

She said: “It’s clearly the case that people do struggle if they are in part-time work. Many do require top-up benefits to get enough money to make ends meet. A lot of people are on zero hours contracts too, so particularly in the tourist industry if they are not needed or the weather isn’t great they have no work. It’s very difficult for people to budget sensibly as a result.”

“It demonstrates the need for a really, really strong relationship on the council to encourage more diverse industry into the area.”

Nigel Reed from Weymouth BID pointed to the large amount of Weymouth businesses that are based on service and tourism.

He said: “From a business point of view, catering and tourism-related industries are a significant part of the local economy in Weymouth and Portland and by nature they employ part-time people.

“I think there’s an element of that, and a lifestyle element in that more people are going for a work-life balance and want to work fewer hours.”