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Low-paid Londoners

Proportion of London residents' jobs paid below London Living Wage by employment type (2005-2023)

This page looks at jobs held by London residents that are paid below the London Living Wage broken down by:

  • employment type (full-time and part-time)
  • sex
  • sex and employment type
  • ethnicity
  • disability
  • qualification level
  • employment status (permanent and non-permanent)

These jobs may be located within London or outside the capital. For a similar analysis focused on jobs located in London only, please see 'Low-paid jobs in London'.

The London Living Wage was introduced in 2005. It is a voluntary wage rate based on the amount of money that people need to live. The rate in London in April 2023 when the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings we use for this analysis was conducted was £11.95.

The proportion of low-paid jobs held by Londoners has increased slightly in 2023 (16.4%) compared to 2022 (16.2%); this follows a steady decline since 2018 that partially reflects the distorting effects of the pandemic and furlough in the labour market. There had been a continuous rise in the proportion of low-paid jobs over the decade to 2015, when a peak of 22.1% of jobs held by Londoners were low-paid.

Low-paid work is something that is more prevalent in part-time employment. In 2023, 41.8% of Londoners in part-time work were in low-paid jobs compared to just 9.7% of Londoners in full-time work.

Proportion of London residents' jobs paid below London Living Wage by sex (2005-2023)

Women have consistently been more likely to be in low-paid work than men. In 2023, 17.8% of female Londoners were in low-paid work, which was a slight reduction compared to 2022 (18.2%). By contrast 14.8% of male Londoners were in low-paid work, but this was an increase compared to 2022 (14%).

Proportion of London residents' jobs paid below London Living Wage by sex and employment type (2023)

This gender gap in low-paid employment is driven by the number of women who are in part-time work. There is no significant difference in the proportion of men in full-time work who are in low-paid jobs (9.6%) and the proportion of women in full-time work (9.7%), but 50% of men in part-time work are low paid compared to 39.2% of women. Despite this, women overall are more likely to be paid below the London Living Wage.

Proportion of London residents' jobs paid below London Living Wage by ethnic group (2021)

Special-license data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) makes it possible to analyse how different demographics groups of Londoners suffer from low-pay. It is important to note, nonetheless, two important caveats in relation to this data source. Firstly, because of reduced sample sizes, for some groups the estimations have rather wide confidence intervals (at 95%), which call for a careful interpretation of the data. Secondly, because of the different characteristics of LFS (a survey of residents) and ASHE (based on a sample of administrative data), the London average associated to the figures below differs from the one represented above.

Notwithstanding the limitations explained above, data appears to show important difference in low-pay according to Londoners’ ethnicity. In fact, white Londoners appear to be the only group that have a below-average proportion of low-paid jobs, with Black Londoners and those of Mixed / multiple ethnicities having low-pay rates significantly higher than averages (Londoners who self-classify as part of “Other” ethnic groups appear to have the highest proportion of low-paid jobs, but small sample size means this estimation rests on a very wide confidence interval).

Proportion of London residents' jobs paid below London Living Wage by disability status (2021)

The chances of Londoners in employment suffering from low-pay are also affected by their disability status. The proportion of working Londoners with a disability that are low-paid is above average, and 7 percentage points higher than their neighbours without a disability.

Proportion of London residents' jobs paid below London Living Wage by qualification level (2021)

Looking at Londoners’ low-pay from the perspective of their qualification level, the differences are even larger, and in line with the analysis of low pay jobs in London that found the highest proportion to be among elementary occupations.

Data shows that the higher the qualification level of Londoners, the less likely they are to be low-paid. While more than 3 in 5 working Londoners without qualifications are low-paid, this proportion is just above 1 in 10 for those educated to degree level. Notwithstanding these differences, this also shows that low-pay is pervasive across the different qualification levels of Londoners, albeit unevenly.

Proportion of London residents' jobs paid below London Living Wage by permanent/non-permanent employment status (2021)

In terms of type of contract, the proportion of Londoners in low-paid jobs in non-permanent employment is significantly above average, and 16 percentage points higher than their neighbours in permanent employment.

London Living Wage