Low-paid Londoners

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 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'.

Low-paid Londoners by employment type (full-time and part-time)

Proportion of London residents' jobs paid below London Living Wage by full-time/part-time status (2005-2021)

From the introduction of the London Living Wage in 2005, low-paid jobs held by Londoners rose over the decade to 2015, when almost 1 in 4 jobs (23.4%) held by Londoners were low-paid.

Although the number of jobs held by London residents in low-paid jobs was split more or less evenly between those in part-time and those in full-time jobs, the proportions are quite different. While more than 1 in 2 part-time jobs held by Londoners in 2015 earned below London Living Wage, only 15% of full-time jobs paid below the London Living Wage.

The proportion of low-paid jobs held by Londoners fluctuated between 2015 and 2019, but its overall number reached a maximum of over 750,000 jobs in 2018 and 2019. Since then, both the number and the proportion of low-paid jobs held by London residents have decreased, partially reflecting the distorting effects of the pandemic and furlough in the labour market.

In 2021, Londoners held 100,000 fewer low-pay jobs than in 2019, a reduction seen mostly in full-time jobs, but more than 1 in 5 jobs Londoners had were still low-paid.

Low-paid Londoners by sex

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

While the proportion of low-paid jobs was increasing, so did the gap between men and women. In 2010 the proportion of jobs held by women in London was 4 percentage points higher than those held by men in London. In 2018, the gap had increased up to 6 percentage points. This gap reduced again after 2018 so that in 2021, 22% of jobs held by women were low-paid, compared to 17% for men.

In 2021, around 54% of all the low-paid jobs Londoners held were done by women.

Low-paid Londoners by sex and employment type

Proportion of London residents' jobs paying below London Living Wage by sex and employment type (2021)

The proportion of full-time jobs held by Londoners is 3 percentage points higher for women than for men but the gender gap is reversed when looking at part-time jobs, more than 50% of which are low-paid if held by men. Because of the differences in the total number of jobs in each group, men employed part-time make up the lowest share of low-paid jobs, whereas women in part-time employment make up the highest.

The post-pandemic situation appears to show a suppression in the numbers of people in low paid work, although this is complicated by wider furlough and employment rate effects. It is fair to say however, that the overall gender differences remain consistent.

Low-paid Londoners by ethnicity

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).

Low-paid Londoners by disability

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.

Low-paid Londoners by qualification level

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.

Low-paid Londoners by employment status (permanent and non-permanent)

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

Learn more about our work on the London Living Wage

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