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Working-age adults

Use the interactive tool below to navigate indicators that show how poverty and inequality affects working-age adults in London.

19-year-olds without Level 2 or Level 3 qualifications (2004/05-2021/22)

Qualification levels of 19-year-olds have significantly improved over time. This is particularly evident in Inner London where the proportion of 19-year-olds without Level 3 qualifications (A Levels and equivalents) has fallen from 61.1% in 2004/05 to 29.4% in 2021/22. However, the COVID-19 pandemic could have had an impact on the data entries of the last two years, with school closures and changes in the means of assessment.

As a result of this, 19 year-olds in Inner London now perform on a par with young people in Outer London and better than their peers in the rest of England (where 41.1% of 19-year-olds lack Level 3 qualifications). 

A similar trend can be seen in Level 2 qualifications (the equivalent of GCSEs), although the proportion of 19-year-olds without these qualifications (in London and the rest of England) has risen slightly …

Level 3 attainment gap between Free School Meals and non-Free School Meals students at 19 years-of-age (2004/05-2021/22)

The attainment gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students is lower in Inner London than in Outer London and lower in Outer London than it is in the rest of England. 

In Inner London in 2021/22, 19 year olds who were eligible for Free School Meals at the end of Key Stage 4 were 12.4 percentage points less likely to have gained Level 3 qualifications (equivalent to A levels) than their peers who were not eligible for Free School Meals. In Outer London the figure was 19.5 percentage points and in the rest of England it was 28.1 percentage points.

Looking over the past decade, the attainment gap has remained fairly consistent, with Inner London always having a smaller gap than Outer London or the rest of England. Based on this data alone, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negligible impact on the attainment gap.

Although a ma…

Pandemic Claimant Count Change: Baseline and Increase Levels (2020-21)

Key findings

  • Every area has seen an increase in claims
  • Average threefold increase
  • Significant increase in areas with historically high levels of employment (shown in orange)
  • Areas with higher numbers of food service, transportation and hospitality workers hit hard (east Newham, north Brent, south Waltham Forest and south Hillingdon)

Every area has seen an increase in the claimant count, with the average being almost a tripling across the 14 month period. The size of the increase, however, is uneven. While some areas have historically had high unemployment levels, other areas with traditionally high levels of employment have seen substantial increases, well over and above the London average, while others have been less impacted.

The first map above shows the size of the increase in each of London's ~4800 small statistical areas (LSOAs) and whet…

Child dependency ratio by area over time (2000-2035)

This indicator shows how many children (aged 0-15) there are for every 100 working-age people (16-64). It is an indication of how many under 16s working-age people need to support.

The child dependency ratio in the rest of England is higher compared to Inner London, but lower compared to Outer London.

In 2022, there were 31.4 children for every 100 working-age adults within Outer London. This figure is both higher than the child dependency ratio in Inner London (22.7 children per 100 working-age adults) and the rest of England (29.8 children per 100 working-age adults).

Inner London’s child dependency ratio has fallen significantly since the Millennium. In the year 2000, there were 27.8 children for every 100 working-age adults in Inner London - compared to 22.7 in 2022. Outer London’s child dependency ratio has stayed consistent in this ti…

Destinations of KS5 school leavers in London, after two terms (2021/22)

30% of young people completing KS5 (post-GCSE qualifications) in London in 2021/22 were classed as disadvantaged, compared to 19% in the rest of England.

In London, the most common destination was higher education, with similar numbers of disadvantaged (54%) and non-disadvantaged (57%) students going to university. This is very different from the rest of England, where a lower proportion of people attend higher education overall, and the gap between disadvantaged (30%) and non-disadvantaged (44%) students is much greater.

In London, disadvantaged young people are less likely to enter work (15%, compared to 25% in the rest of England) or begin an apprenticeship (3%, compared to 7% in the rest of England).

Pupils are classified as disadvantaged in Year 11 if they are either eligible for free school meals in the last 6 years or were looked aft…

Actual weekly hours by gross weekly pay quintile across Q2 - Q3 in London and the rest of England (2010-2021)

Looking at hours worked within London and the rest of England can give us a useful insight on our working patterns pre- and post-pandemic. Actual hours worked are heavily impacted by external factors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, whereas usual hours are not expected to change much over the years. 

Actual hours worked varied particularly between 2019 and 2020 for the bottom income quintiles within England. Within London, the decline in actual hours worked for the 2nd income quintile is most extreme between 2019 and 2020 - dropping from 36.8 to 25.6 hours per week. For almost all income quintiles, the amount of actual hours worked has bounced back to pre-pandemic levels as the economy recovers. However, for those in the 2nd income quintile, the amount of hours in 2021 (33.1 hours) are still below pre-pandemic levels in 2019 (36.8 hours).


London households affected by the benefit cap (2014 - 2023 Q4)

What does this indicator show?

The benefit cap limits the amount of money  that most working-age people can receive from benefits. In Greater London the limit is £25,323 per year or £16,697 for single adults with no children. This was reduced in November 2016, and recently increased in April 2023. The benefit cap is applied by either reducing Universal Credit or Housing Benefit (for those not claiming Universal Credit).

What does it tell us?

More than 25,000 households in London had their income reduced by the benefit cap in November 2023. This has increased by more than 35% since before the pandemic (November 2019). However, the number of households affected by the benefit cap has been steeply reducing since a peak of 33,000 households during the pandemic.

The data refers to the month of November for each year spanning 2014 to 2023 and incl…

Work status of London households (2004-2022)

What does this indicator show?

A household is considered “workless” when at least one member of the household is aged between 16 and 64 and none of its adults are in employment. This indicator shows the proportion of households in London where no adults are in work, and the proportion where some or all adults are in work.

What does it tell us?

In 8% of London’s working age households, no adults are in work. That's 501,000 households across the city. The proportion of workless households has almost halved since 2004 when 15% of households contained nobody in employment. There was a slight increase to 9% in 2021 likely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, before returning to 8% in 2022. This means that in 2022, at least one adult does some work in 92% of working-age households in London.

In 2022, there were over 3.2 million households in…

Work status of London households by net income quintile (2021/22)

This indicator shows that household work status is closely related to household net incomes. Overall, households with lower net incomes are more likely to include inactive, retired or unemployed adults.

For example, just 8.7% of those in the bottom 20% of the net income distribution live in households where all adults work full time, while 61.5% of those in the top 20% of the net income distribution live in households where all adults work full time. On the contrary, nearly one in five of those in the bottom net income quintile live in economically inactive households, compared to just 1.6% of those in the top net income quintile.

Life expectancy at birth by borough for men and women (2020 to 2022)

This indicator shows overall life expectancy at birth in each London borough.

Overall life expectancy is consistently higher for women than for men across all London boroughs (2020-2022). The highest life expectancy for women is in Kensington and Chelsea (86.3 years), and in Richmond upon Thames for men (82.4).

The lowest life expectancy for both men and women is in Barking and Dagenham - 76.3 years and 80.4 years respectively.

Healthy life expectancy

Healthy life expectancy is the number of years a person can expect to live in good health rather than with a disability or in poor health.

Although women have a higher life expectancy than men in every borough, in some boroughs men have a longer healthy life expectancy. For example, in Tower Hamlets a man can expect to live 65.3 years in good health, compared to 57.8 years for a woman.

Albeit rec…

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 th…

This page looks at jobs held by borough residents that are paid below the London Living Wage. For jobs located in boroughs, please see 'Low-paid jobs in London', chart four.

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.

Barking and Dagenham had the highest proportion of residents who were low paid (24.6%) in 2023 followed by Brent (23.3%) and Enfield (22.8%). By contrast Wandsworth (9.7%), Hammersmith and Fulham (9.9%) and Kensington and Chelsea (10%) has the lowest proportion.

Barking and Dagenham also had a significant increase compared to 2022 in the proportion of low-paid residents of 5 percentage points, closely fol…

Old-age dependency ratio by area over time (2000-2035)

This indicator shows how many older people (65+) there are for every 100 working-age adults (16-64). It reflects the level of support working-age people and national and local government might need to provide to those who are retired.

Both Inner and Outer London have a lower old-age dependency ratio than the rest of England. In Inner London in 2022, there were 12.7 people over the age of 65 for every 100 working-age adults. This compares to 21 in Outer London and 32.1 in the rest of England.

Over the next decade, as the population ages, the dependency ratio is projected to increase quite rapidly.

Proportion of Londoners aged 16-64 receiving out-of-work benefits by benefit type (2014-2023 Q2)

12.9% of working-age Londoners are out-of-work and on benefits - a slight increase since last year (12.2%).

The number of out-of-work benefit claimants aged 16-64 jumped in 2020 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, peaking at 14.7% in 2021.

The types of benefits claimed by those out of work has also changed in recent years, as Universal Credit has rolled out across the capital. For example, 0.7% of working-age Londoners were out of work and claiming Universal Credit in 2016. By 2023, this proportion had risen to 9.7% of the working-age population. 

Compared to the rest of England

London has a slightly smaller proportion of its working-age population on out-of-work benefits than the rest of England - 12.9% compared to 13.1%. This was also the trend pre-pandemic - from 2013-2018, the proportion of the working-age population on out-of-work ben…

Indexed gross hourly pay in London and England (2002-2023)

This indicator shows how hourly pay for Londoners’ in employment (before tax, adjusted for inflation) has changed over time, using 2008 as a baseline. On average, Londoners are paid 8.5% less per-hour (as of 2023) than in 2008 - lower than any point since 2015.

Hourly pay for lower earners

Hourly pay for lower earning Londoners at the 10th income percentile has grown significantly since 2014. Londoners in this group are paid 11.5% more per-hour (as of 2023) than they were in 2008. This rise is even more extreme in the rest of England, where those at the 10th income percentile earn 19% more per hour than they did in 2008.

This rise is likely driven by increases in the minimum and Living Wages. However, when we look at weekly and yearly pay - instead of hourly - we don’t see the same increase in earnings for those on lower incomes. 

Hourly pay…

Indexed gross annual pay in London and England (2000/01 - 2022/23)

This indicator shows how yearly pay for Londoners’ in employment (before tax, adjusted for inflation) has changed over time, using 2008 as a baseline. On average, Londoners are paid 8.9% less (as of 2023) than they were in 2008. 

Yearly pay for lower earners

Over the last 10 years, annual pay for Londoners at the lower 10th percentile has increased by 9%. This group are also paid slightly more per year (2.2%) than they were at the start of the pandemic.

However, Londoners at the 10th percentile are still paid significantly less (11.2%) per year than they were in 2008. This is despite earning more per hour than in 2008, as shown by our hourly pay over time indicator

Yearly pay for higher earners

Londoners at the 90th percentile (those with incomes above 90% of other Londoners) are paid 8.3% less than they were in 2008. 

Before the pandemic, t…

People seen sleeping rough by outreach workers by borough (2022/23)

People sleeping rough by London boroughs

Proportion of households in poverty by family type (2021/22)

Poverty rates are highest among families made up of single adults with children. In both London and the rest of England 45% of these family types are counted as being in poverty. Other single person household types follow next, with couple households showing lower poverty rates. Couples without children are the least likely to be in poverty - 14% of this family type were in poverty in London for 2021/22.

If we look at the proportion of all families in poverty in London, those with children make up more than half (55%) with single persons without children making up nearly a third (32%).

Poverty for children, pensioners and working-age adults (2011/2012 and 2021/2022)

Children, working age adults and pensioners all have higher rates of poverty in London than in the rest of England. Of the three age groups, children have the highest poverty rates, with 33% of children in London in poverty in 2021/22, compared to 22% of working-age adults and 23% of pensioners. 

In London, poverty rates for children and working-age adults fell between 2011/12 and 2021/22. In the rest of England, poverty rates for children went up in the same time period, and for working-age adults stayed the same.

In both London and the rest of England, the proportion of pensioners in poverty went up in this time period.

Proportion of Londoners in poverty after housing costs by age band (2021/22)

Poverty rates after housing costs were highest among children and young people in 2021/22, in both London and the rest of England.

In London:

  • 160,000 children aged four and under live in households in poverty
  • Almost a third (34%) of children aged 5-9 are in households in poverty
  • Over a third of 10-19 year olds live in households that are in poverty (38% of those aged 10-14 and 34% of those aged 15-19).

In contrast, 17% of Londoners aged 30-34 live in households that are in poverty - the lowest rate for any age group.

Poverty rates in London are higher than those in the rest of England for people of most age groups, except for children aged 0-4 and adults aged 30-39 and 60-64.

The impacts of housing costs on poverty in the capital can again be seen by comparing these findings to those from measures of poverty before housing costs (BHC). Poverty …

Households are considered to be below the UK poverty line if their income is below 60% of the median household income after housing costs for that year.

Number of children, adults, and pensioners in London in poverty by working status (2011/2012, 2016/2017 and 2021/2022)

In London people counted as being in poverty most frequently live in working households. This has been consistently the case for the last decade. In 2021/22 we find some 910,000 people in poverty are living in working households whereas just 370,000 in poverty are living in working-age workless households.

A similar pattern is true if we look at children in poverty. 510,000 children in poverty live in households where someone is in work, whereas 160,000 live in workless households.

230,000 pensioners in London are in poverty

Poverty rates by demographic characteristics in London (2021/22)

Poverty rates vary significantly across different demographic groups in London. The highest poverty rates are experienced by workless families (52%) and households comprised of single people with children (47%). Black and minority ethnic groups are far more likely to be in poverty (33%) than white people (18%), and single pensioners also see a higher than average poverty rate at 30%.

Generally speaking all the groups included here have seen declining poverty rates since 2018/19 (the peak of the overall time series) apart from single pensioners, couples without children and workless families.

Proportion of people in London in poverty by type of working houshold over time (1998/99 - 2021/22)

Household work status is closely related to the likelihood of the household being in poverty. This indicator focuses on poverty rates for families in London where at least one adult works. It shows that, on average, the fewer adults who are in work, the more likely the household is to be in poverty:

  • Those where no adult works full-time but at least one works part-time have the highest poverty rate, with nearly half of people (44%) living in such households being in poverty.
  • In contrast, only 8% of people who live in households where all of the adults work full-time are in poverty. 
  • In households with two adults where only one works full time, the poverty rate is higher for those where the other adult does not work (28%) than those where the other adult works part-time (12%).

Premature deaths per 100,000 under-75 year olds by London borough (2022)

When somebody under the age of 75 dies, it counts as a premature death. This indicator shows the number of premature deaths per 100,000 under-75 year olds in each London borough.

The average number of deaths per 100,000 under-75 year olds in England is 342, whereas in London it is 309.

Eight London boroughs have a rate of premature deaths higher than England’s average. These boroughs are generally in the east of the city- such as Barking and Dagenham (433 per 100,000 under-75 year olds), Hackney (404), and Tower Hamlets (394). The borough with the lowest premature death rate is Richmond (225 per 100,000).

City of London’s figures have been suppressed since their data sample is too small.

Numbers of non-working men and women aged 16-64 in London (2020 Q1 and 2023 Q3)

This indicator shows the reasons for not working for men and women, as well as the number of working-age people not working in London.

The number of men not working increased from 2020 Q1 to 2023 Q3 from 610k to 678k, while the number of women fell from 908k to 887k.

The largest difference between men and women is the proportion of those who do not work because they are looking after their family or home. While only 3.7% of non-working men fall in this category, 32.5% of women do.

The proportion of women who cite looking after family or home as their reason for not working fell in 2023 Q3 compared to 2020 Q1 from 36.2% to 32.5%, and so did the absolute number (329k to 289k). On the contrary, the proportion of women who were unemployed increased from 10.7% to 12.3%, with the absolute number rising from 98k to 109k. This change in composition…

Population by age-groups (2021)

More than one in five people living in Inner London (23.1%) are aged between 25 and 34. This compares to just 12.7% of those in the rest of England. More broadly, in Inner London, almost half the population is made up out of those who are in their early twenties to early forties (47.2%), compared to the rest of England where three in 10 (31.1%) are in this age group, and Inner London is home to a higher proportion of young people than Outer London.

This is caused by people moving to Inner London for work early in their careers and then leaving as they start families. The largest five-year age band is 25 to 29 year olds in Inner London, 35 to 39 year olds in Outer London and 50 to 54 year olds in the rest of England. A relatively small proportion of London’s population is over 65; 9.4% in Inner London and 13.6% in Outer London compared to …

Average travel time by public transport to jobs and services by neighbourhood income deprivation decile (2019)

Based on average travel times by public transport, Londoners have much better access to jobs and services than people in the rest of England. For example, the average journey time by public transport to the nearest large employment centre from the 10% most deprived areas is 21 minutes in London compared to 25 minutes in the rest of England. 

For the same measure, people living in the most income-deprived areas of London have slightly better access than those in less income-deprived areas. The average journey time to public services (such as schools, GPs and hospitals) is more than 25% longer for the least deprived areas in London than the most deprived areas. 

Journey times are only part of how well Londoners can access jobs and services. Price is also an important factor with people on low incomes unable to make the most of the opportunit…

Underutilised labour market capacity in London (2009/10 - 2022/23 Q2)

The proportion of people in London wanting to work more than they currently do fell steadily from 17.8% of the working-age population in 2011/12 to 10.8% in 2019/20. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it increased to 12.6% in 2020/21, before coming down to 9.3% in 2022/23, which is the lowest for the time period covered by this indicator.

Since a peak in 2011/12, the proportion of people who are unemployed fell from 7.2% to 3.7% in 2019/20, an uptick followed the COVID pandemic in 2020/21 to 5.2%, falling back again to 3.7%.

The proportion who are part- time but want full time work fell from 3.7% to 2.4% in the same period, before slightly increasing to 2.6% in 2020/21: and the proportion who are economically inactive but wanting work dropped from it’s peak of 6.9% in 2011/12 before increasing from 4.5% in 2018/19 to 4.8% in 2020/21.

Moving forw…

Unemployment rates in London for men and women (Jul 1992 - Jul 2023)

The unemployment rate in London more than halved since its post-financial crisis peak in 2011 (10.1%) to 4.8% in 2023. 2021 saw it increase substantially to 6%, reaching levels not seen since 2015. This increase is likely the result of the slowdown of the economy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Other factors, such as those put on furlough and the change in inactivity within the labour market, should also be considered. Unemployment rates have decreased since, to 4.8% in 2023.

Over the past three decades, the gender split of unemployment has become more even overall. In 1993 the unemployment rate was more than 40% higher for men compared to women, but by the early 2010s the numbers were broadly similar for both genders. Since 2011, the unemployment rate fell for both women (from 10.5% to 4.6% in 2019) and men (from 9.9% to 4.7% in 2019).


Unemployment rate over time (2005 Q3 - 2023 Q3)

The picture now

Outer London’s unemployment rate is 5.2%, slightly above the rate in Inner London of 4.4%. Both Inner and Outer London have higher unemployment rates* than the rest of England (3.5%).

How this has changed over time

From 2012 until 2019, unemployment followed a steady decline after peaking in the aftermath of the financial crisis. In Inner London, the unemployment rate more than halved from 2011 to 2019, from 10.5% to 4.5%. It recovered to pre-financial crisis levels in 2014. In Outer London, it declined from 9.2% in 2012 to 4.7% in 2019, and did not recover its pre-crisis levels until 2016.

Unemployment surged in 2021, likely as a result of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This appears to have been sharper in London. From 2020 to 2021 the unemployment rate in Inner London rose by 27% (1.3 percentage points) and i…

Unemployment rate by London borough (2022 Q3 and 2023 Q3)

What does this indicator show?

A person is considered ‘unemployed’ if they are out of work, but looking for or available to work. This indicator shows the unemployment rate - the proportion of economically active people (that is those either employed or unemployed) age 16+ who are unemployed - in each London borough.

What does it tell us?

The unemployment rate varies across London boroughs with the highest rates in 2023 Q4 nearly twice as high as the lowest. Hillingdon (7.0%), Barking and Dagenham (6.8%) and Tower Hamlets (6.3%) contrast with Hackney (3.8%), Southwark (3.9%), and Wandsworth (4.0%).

Compared to the previous year, most boroughs saw increases, some quite large - Hillingdon, Kensington and Chelsea, Bromley, Kingston upon Thames, Hackney, Bexley and Merton all saw increases of more than 2 percentage points. A few boroughs saw dec…

Unemployment rates by age group (2005 Q3 - 2023 Q3)

The unemployment rate* in London for those aged 16–24 increased by 2.1 percentage points in the year to September 2023, rising to 16.3%. Excluding the COVID-19 pandemic affecting 2021, this is the highest rate since 2016.

By contrast unemployment for those aged 25–64 is significantly lower and saw just a small increase from 3.5% in 2022 to 3.8% in 2023.

Unemployment for people aged 65 and over was comparable to people aged 25–64 for the most recently available data (low survey response numbers mean we can’t report for 2022 or 2023). However, relatively few in this group are either in work or seeking work, as the majority are retired.

Unemployment rates among the working age population (16-64) are higher in London than in the rest of England, which has been true for the whole time period covered by this indicator.

Compared to other age groups…

Proportion of workers in London in temporary employment (2011-2022 Q2)

Just over 5% of people in work in London are on temporary contracts. Temporary contracts are more prevalent amongst women in work than men: 30% more women than men were on a temporary contract in 2022 (Q2).

The proportion of workers on temporary contracts has remained relatively consistent over the past decade, fluctuating between just over 4.5% and just under 6% of all workers. In 2022 (Q2), 0.84% of women in work and 0.66% of men in work were on a temporary contract and reported that it was because they could not find a permanent job

Proportion of London's working-age population who are not in paid work by ethnic group (2013 Q3, 2020 Q1 and 2023 Q3)

The picture today

People of Pakistani/Bangladeshi background have the highest rates of not being in paid work, with 41.2% of the working-age population not working, followed by people of Black ethnic background (37.7%).

White people have the lowest rate of being out of work (20.4%) followed by people of Indian background at 23.1%.

How this has changed over time

Every major ethnic group in London has seen a fall in the proportion of people who are not in paid work in the decade up to June 2023. In 2013, almost half of Londoners of Pakistani/Bangladeshi background were not in paid work (49.3%), down to 41.2% today.

People of Black ethnic background have had the smallest fall in the proportion of people not in work in the last decade (2 percent points).

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of being out of work rose for people of…

Worklessness for men and women in London by country of birth (2021/22 Q1)

Just under two-thirds (63%) of working-age women in London who were born in Bangladesh did not work in the year to March 2021/22, the highest rate of any nationality. Pakistani women are not far behind with 61% not working. Of men in London who were born overseas, those from China have the highest rate of worklessness (28%).

Women originally from Portugal had the lowest rates of worklessness (2%), while those from Sri Lanka had the lowest rate for men (9%). For most countries, the worklessness rate is higher for women than men, although this trend does not hold true for countries such as Lithuania, Portugal, France, Romania, Poland and Italy.