Low-paid jobs in London

This page shows the proportion of jobs in London paid below the London Living Wage by:

  • employment type (full-time and part-time)
  • industry
  • occupation
  • borough

Here we focus on workplace based numbers, so jobs may be held by Londoners, or commuters into the capital but resident elsewhere. For data on jobs held by London residents only, please see 'Low-paid Londoners'.

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

Proportion of jobs in London workplaces that are paid below London Living Wage by full-time/part-time status (2005-2021)

Overall in 2021, more than 17% of jobs in the capital were low-paid. 

The number and proportion of low-paid jobs broadly rose for more than a decade since the London Living Wage was first introduced in 2005 until 2018, when more than 1 in 5 jobs in the capital were low-paid (totalling 871,000 jobs in London). These low-paid jobs were divided almost equally between full and part-time, however as there are so many more full-time jobs overall, they represent very different proportions. In 2018, almost 1 in 2 part-time, but only over 1 in 8 full-time jobs, were low-paid. 

Since 2018, the number and the proportion of low-paid jobs fell, particularly in 2021, which may be a partial reflection of the distorting effects of the pandemic and furlough on the labour market. Compared to the 2018 highs, in 2021 there were 100,000 fewer low-paid full-time jobs in London, meaning 1 in 10 full-time jobs were low-paid, and 50,000 fewer low-paid part-time jobs (or 4 in 10).

Low-paid jobs by industry

Proportion of jobs in London workplaces paying below London Living Wage by industry (2021)

Low-paid jobs by occupation

Nearly 7 in 10 jobs in 'accommodation and food service activities' are low-paid. 1 in 3 jobs in 'retail, admin and support services' are low-paid. By contrast, only around 1 in 7 jobs in 'real estate' pay below the London Living Wage. Additionally, a number of different industries grouped under the 'other' category, detailed in the chart notes, have a proportion of jobs paying below London Living Wage lower than 10%.

The overall volume of employment in each industry is also important in determining which industries have the highest shares of low-paid jobs in London. Although 'accommodation and food services activities' have a proportion of jobs paying below the London Living Wage twice as high as 'retail activities', they both concentrate more than 20% each of all low-paid jobs in the capital. Human health and social work activities, on the other hand, despite a lower-than-average proportion of jobs paying below the London Living Wage, still concentrates more than 10% of all low-paid jobs in the capital.

While more than 2 out of 3 elementary occupations are paid below London Living Wage, this proportion is 5% for technical, professional, scientific and managerial occupations. Sales and customer service occupations also have a low-pay ratio above 50%.

All types of occupations, except for technical, professional, scientific and managerial occupations, have an above-average proportion of jobs that are low-paid.

Differences in both the proportion of low-paid jobs and in the overall volume of jobs in each type of occupation help explain each occupation’s share of all low-paid jobs in the capital. Accordingly, 1 in 4 low-paid jobs in London are elementary occupations, with the highest low-pay ratio, yet almost 1 in 5 are technical, professional, scientific and managerial occupations, despite its very low proportion of jobs paying below London Living Wage.

Proportion of jobs in London workplaces paying below London Living Wage by occupation (2021)

Low-paid jobs by borough

Proportion of jobs paying below London Living Wage by borough workplace (2021)

Boroughs in outer London tend to have significantly higher proportions of low-paid jobs than those in Inner London, although here are some exceptions. Richmond upon Thames and Kingston upon Thames, both in outer London, have below average proportion of jobs paid below London Living Wage, whereas the proportion of low-paid jobs for Lambeth and Kensington & Chelsea, in inner London, is above the London average.

Nevertheless, because of the large volume of jobs Inner London hosts, a high share of all low-paid jobs in the capital are concentrated there. For instance, 8% of low-paid jobs in London are in Westminster, the borough with the highest share, followed by Lambeth with 4.9%.

London Living Wage

Learn more about our work on the London Living Wage

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