Working-age adults

Londoners aged 16-64

Date 31 August 2017
Date updated 20 April 2020

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

Working-age adults: Indicators

Proportion of Londoners aged 16-64 on out-of-work benefits by benefit type (2013-2019)

The proportion of working-age Londoners on out-of-work benefits has fallen in the period since 2013 shown in this indicator. 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, 0.3% of working-age Londoners were out of work and claiming Universal Credit in 2016. By 2019, this proportion had risen to 2.5% of the working-age population. 

Across this whole period, the proportion of the working-age population on out-of-work benefits was higher in the rest of England than in London.

Number of London households affected by benefit cap (2016 and 2019)

The benefit cap limits the amount of benefit that most working-age people can receive. In London, the limit is £23,000 per year or £15,410 for single adults with no children; this was reduced in 2015. The benefit cap is applied by either reducing Universal Credit or Housing Benefit (for those not claiming Universal Credit).

The benefit cap reduced the benefits of nearly 20,000 families in London in November 2019 (11,062 had Universal Credit reduced and another 8,899 had Housing Benefit reduced). The number of families with their benefits capped in London has risen by 76% over the last five years and 87,665 London families have been affected by the cap since its introduction in 2013.

The majority of London households affected by the benefit cap in 2019 had their benefits reduced by up to £50 per month.

19-year-olds without Level 2 or Level 3 qualifications (2005-2018)

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% in 2005 to 35.5% in 2018.

In doing so, 19 year-olds in Inner London now perform more or less on a par with young people in Outer London and better than their peers in the rest of England (where 44.1% 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 since 2015.

Level 3 attainment gap between Free School Meals and non-Free School Meals students at 19 years-of-age (2005 - 2018)

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 2018, 19 year olds who were eligible for Free School Meals at the end of Key Stage 4 were 12 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 20 percentage points and in the rest of England it was 29 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 and the rest of England.

Destinations of KS5 school leavers in London, after two years (2018)

In 2018, 41% of London’s Key Stage 5 disadvantaged students went on to pursue higher education for at least two years, in comparison to 46% of non-disadvantaged students. The second most popular destination for disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students was employment (16% and 17% of each group respectively). 

This differs from the rest of England. Overall, the proportion of students who are disadvantaged in the rest of England (22%) is smaller than in London (34%). However, only 21% of disadvantaged Key Stage 5 students in the rest of England went on to pursue higher education for at least two years (almost half of the proportion in London).

This is offset by other destinations in the rest of England, including more disadvantaged students gaining employment after Key Stage 5 (27% in the rest of England, compared to 16% in London) or goi…

Work status of London households by net income quintile (2017/18)

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 9% of those in the bottom 20% of the net income distribution live in households where all adults work. In contrast, 55% of those in the top 20% of the net income distribution live in households where all adults work. One in five (21%) of those in the bottom net income quintile live in workless households, compared to just 1% of those in the top net income quintile.

Work status of London households (2004 - 2018)

The proportion of working-age households where none of the adults are in employment ('workless households') has fallen for over a decade, hitting a low of 8% in 2018, only slightly over half the 2004 rate of 15%. This means that, in 92% of working-age households in London, at least one adult does some work.

In 2018, there were 2.9 million households in London (48%) where all adults were in work. Another 2.6 million households in London (44%) contained some working adults and some who were not in work.

Unemployment counts in London by sex (1992 - 2019)

The number of unemployed people in London has halved since its post-financial crisis peak in 2011 (from 450,000 in 2011 to 210,000 in 2019). 

Over the past three decades, the gender split of unemployment has become more even. In 1993, there were almost two unemployed men for every unemployed woman, but by 2013 the numbers were broadly similar with roughly 190,000 of both genders unemployed. Since then, unemployment has fallen faster for women than it has for men, with 129,000 unemployed men in 2019 and 84,000 unemployed women.

Unemployment rate over time (2004/05 - 2018/19)

Unemployment has more than halved in Inner London since 2012/13, from 9.7% of the economically active population to 4.5% in 2018/19. In Outer London, the unemployment rate has fallen from a peak of 9.2% in 2011/12 to 4.7% in 2018/19. Unemployment is consistently higher in London than in England as a whole, where the rate stood at 3.9% in 2018/19.

Unemployment rose after 2007/08 as a result of the financial crisis but had recovered by 2013/14 in Inner London, 2014/15 in England as a whole and 2015/16 in Outer London. Since then, unemployment rates have steadily fallen both in London and England overall. 

The last decade has also seen the convergence of unemployment rates in Inner London, Outer London and England. In 2004/05, the unemployment rate in Inner London was almost 75% higher than in England. By 2018/19, the difference between the t…

Unemployment rate by London borough (2013-16 and 2016-19)

In 2019, the borough with the highest unemployment rate was Tower Hamlets at 7.7%, whilst unemployment in Richmond upon Thames was 3.4%, the lowest in London. The figures presented here are averages of the three years up to the stated year. 

In most London boroughs, unemployment fell between 2016 and 2019. The largest falls were seen in Greenwich and Barking and Dagenham which both fell by 3.5 percentage points and Waltham Forest which saw unemployment reduce by 3.3 percentage points. 

Unemployment rose the most in Hounslow, where rates were 1.7 percentage points higher in 2019 than 2016.

Unemployment rates by age group (2004/05 - 2018/19)

Poverty rates for all age groups are higher in London than in the rest of England, and have been so for the whole time period covered by this indicator. Poverty in London is most prevalent amongst those aged between 16 and 24, with 15.2% of this group being unemployed. This compares to just 3.5% of those aged between 25 and 64. Unemployment is lowest for those aged 65 and over, at 2.4% in 2018/19, however relatively few in this group are either in work or seeking work as the majority are retired. 

Compared to other age groups, the unemployment rate for those aged between 16 and 24 rose faster following the financial crisis and has fallen faster since then. 

The unemployment rate is the percentage of the economically active population (adults who are not retired, studying, looking after the home, long-term sick etc.) who are either without …

Proportion of London's working-age population who are not in paid work by ethnic group (2008/09 and 2018/19)

In the decade up to 2018/19, every major ethnic group in London has seen a fall in the proportion of people who are not in paid work. 

People of Pakistani/Bangladeshi background have the highest rates of not being in paid work, with 41% of the working-age population not working. White people have the lowest rate of being out of work (21%). 

The largest proportional change between 2008/09 - 2018/19 was for Indians, where the percentage of people not in work fell by more than a quarter. There are many reasons why an individual aged 16-64 might not be in paid work including studying, long-term illness, looking after the home and unemployment.

Worklessness for men and women in London by country of birth (2018/19)

Of men in London who were born overseas, those from China have the highest rate of worklessness (27%). Of women in London who were born overseas, the highest rate of worklessness is 69%, for those born in Bangladesh. 

The lowest rates of worklessness are for men born in South Africa (5%) and for women born in Lithuania (12%). For most countries, the worklessness rate is higher for women than men. However, this trend does not hold true for those born in France, Ireland or Lithuania.

Reasons for not working for men and women aged 16-64 in London (2018/19)

This indicator shows the reasons for not working for men and women. The largest difference is amongst those who are looking after their family or home. There are 358,700 women within this category, but only 26,600 men (meaning roughly 13.5 times more women than men) are not working due to taking care of their family and home. In contrast, unemployment is higher amongst men (125,400) than women (97,000).

Other categories of reasons for not working are broadly similar, for example with 214,000 men not working because they are students and 215,700 women in the same situation.

Underutilised labour market capacity in London (2008 - 2019)

The number of people wanting to work more than they currently do has fallen steadily in London since 2012. For example, 10.7% of Londoners aged 16-64 were in this position in 2019, compared to 14.4% in 2014.

Each component part of this group has also fallen. For example, 2.6% of working-age adults were in part-time jobs because they could not find a full-time job in 2019, compared to 3.4% in 2014. The combined proportion of people who are not working but would like to (unemployed or inactive but wanting work) has fallen from 11.0% of the working-age population in 2014 to 8.1% in 2019.

Whilst this fall is positive, for those still left wanting more work, there are clear implications for the experience of in-work poverty, demonstrated in other London's Poverty Profile indicators.

Proportion of workers in London in temporary employment (2008 - 2019)

Over 5% of people in work in London are on temporary contracts. Temporary contracts are more prevalent amongst women in work than men: 50% more women than men were on a temporary contract in 2019.  

The proportion of workers on temporary contracts has remained relatively consistent over the past decade, fluctuating between 5% and 6% of all workers. In 2019, 1.15% of women in work and 0.53% of men in work were on a temporary contract and reported that it was because they could not find a permanent job.

Employment rate of 16-64 year olds by highest qualification level (2018)

Employment rates are, on average, higher amongst people with higher levels of qualifications. For example, 88.6% of Londoners aged 16-64 with qualifications higher than A-levels (such as university degrees) were employed in 2019 compared to 49.8% for people with no qualifications. 

Across all but the highest qualification level, employment rates are higher in the rest of England than they are in London. However, a much larger proportion of working-age people in London have qualifications higher than A-levels - 53% in London compared to 36% in the rest of England - meaning that overall employment rates are similar. 

There are a number of reasons why people may not be employed, including that they are studying, retired, looking after the home, sick or unemployed. As such, it is not necessarily a bad thing for any one individual to not be emp…

People seen sleeping rough by outreach workers by borough (2018/19)

The number of people sleeping rough in London has more than doubled in a decade. Some 8,855 people were recorded sleeping rough in the capital in 2018/19 compared to 3,472 in 2008/09. 

Although the majority of rough sleeping continues to take place in Central London, with the highest levels recorded in Westminster and Camden, the proportion of people sleeping rough who do so in Central London has fallen from over two thirds in 2011/12 to just over a half in 2018/19. This has been primarily driven by a rise in rough sleeping in East London, with Newham now the borough with the third highest numbers of people sleeping rough. 

Most people sleeping rough are white, although the number of BAME people sleeping rough has risen faster than the number of white people. Of the people whose nationality is known, around half are British citizens, with …

How much weekly income is needed to not be in poverty?

Household types Minimum Income Standard - Inner London (AHC), 2018 Minimum Income Standard - Outer London (AHC), 2018 UK poverty line - After Housing Costs, 2018 Destitution, 2018
Single, working-age £269 £245 £152 £70
Couple, working-age £368 £398 £263 £100
Single, pensioner £206 £183 £152 NA
Couple, pensioner £382 £317 £263 NA
Lone parent, one child (aged one) £291 £308 £205 £90
Couple with two children (aged three and seven) £503 £520 £373 £140

Note: MIS figures are updated to reflect the report produced by Loughborough University for TfL in 2019. For family types where updates are not available we have carried forward the 2016/17 data and adjusted for inflation by CPIH. Destitution is defined by the JRF as people who went without 2 or more essentials in the past month because they couldn't afford them, or their income is extremely low

Data source: Poverty thresholds are from Households Below Average Income 2017/18, Department for Work and Pensions. Minimum Income Standard thresholds are based on the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) for London, Trust for London 2018. Destitution in the UK 2018, JRF

There are a number of different definitions of poverty including the UK poverty line, the Minimum Income Standard (MIS), and the UK destitution line. This table shows how poverty thr…

Poverty for children, pensioners and working-age adults (2007/08 and 2017/18)

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 37% of children in London in poverty, compared to 25% of working-age adults and 24% of pensioners.

In both London and the rest of England, poverty rates fell between 2007/08 and 2017/18 for children but rose or remained flat for working-age adults. The poverty rate for pensioners rose in London but fell in the rest of England.

Number of children, adults, and pensioners in London in poverty by working status (2007/08, 2012/13 and 2017/18)

As employment rates have increased in the capital, so too has the number of adults in poverty who are in working families. In 2007/08, 740,000 working-age adults were in poverty in working families, compared to 1.05 million in 2017/18 (a 42% increase over the decade). There is a similar story for children in working families in poverty; 340,000 children were in this position in 2007/08, compared to 550,000 in 2017/18 (an increase of 62% over the decade).

In contrast, the number of working-age adults and children in poverty who are in workless families have both fallen over the last decade.

The number of pensioners in poverty in the capital has remained broadly stable in the last decade, with 250,000 in poverty in 2017/18.

Whilst there are more people in poverty in working families than in workless families, this (at least in part) is a refl…

Proportion of people in London in poverty by type of working houshold over time (1998/99 - 2017/18)

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 does some work. 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 half of people (49%) living in such households being in poverty.
  • In contrast, only 9% 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, the poverty rate is higher for those where the other adult does not work (32%) than those where the other adult works part-time (15%). 

Poverty rates across all working households in London have increased over …

Premature deaths per 100,000 under-75 year olds by London borough (2016-18)

The rate of premature deaths is lower in the majority of London boroughs compared to England overall. However, 10 London boroughs have rates of premature deaths that are higher than that of England overall.

Premature deaths are calculated as an average across three years (from 2016 to 2018) and look at the mortality rate for all deaths under the age of 75. They are presented as a rate per 100,000 people aged under 75 in each area.

The average number of deaths per 100,000 under-75 year olds in England is 332, whereas in London it is 310. Barking and Dagenham has, on average, the highest premature death rate (400 per 100,000 under-75 year olds), whereas City of London has the lowest rate (222 per 100,000 under-75 year olds).

Life expectancy at birth by London borough (2015-17)

The above graph shows overall life expectancy at birth as well as healthy life expectancy. The below graph indicates the number of years a person can expect to live in good health rather than with a disability or in poor health.

Overall life expectancy is higher for women than for men in 2015 to 2017. This is true across all London boroughs. However, this is less clear for healthy life expectancy, with some boroughs having a longer healthy life expectancy for men than women. For example, healthy life expectancy for men in Sutton is 69.8 years, whereas for women it is 66.4 years.

The highest life expectancy for women (86.5 years) is found in Camden, while for men the highest life expectancy is 83.2 years in Kensington and Chelsea. The lowest life expectancy for both men (77.8 years) and women (82.1 years) is found in Barking and Dagenham, h…

Population by age-groups (2018)

London’s population is young (average age 36.5) compared to the UK overall (40.3).

More than one in 10 people living in Inner London (11.7%) are aged between 30 and 34. This compares to just 6.2% 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%), compared to the rest of England where three in 10 (31%) 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 30 to 34 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 small proportion of London’s population is ove…

Proportion of Londoners in poverty after housing costs by age band (2017/18)

In both London and the rest of England, poverty rates (after housing costs) are highest amongst children and young people.

In London:

  • More than a quarter of a million (250,000) children aged four and under live in households in poverty - more than any other age group;
  • More than a third of children aged up to 14 are in households in poverty (38% of those aged 0-4, 32% of those aged 5-9 and 37% of those aged 10-14); and
  • Nearly half (44%) of those aged 15-19 live in households that are in poverty.

In contrast, one in five Londoners aged 35-39 (21%) 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 all ages.

The impacts of housing costs on poverty in the capital can again be seen by comparing these findings to those from measures of poverty …

Child dependency ratio by area over time (2000 - 2030)

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

In Outer London, there are 34 children for every 100 working-age adults compared to 31 in the rest of England, and 26 in Inner London. 

The child dependency ratio is an indication of how many under 16s working-age people need to support. Since 2000, the child dependency ratio has fallen in Inner London and the rest of England but risen in Outer London. Across London and England, the child dependency ratio is projected to peak in 2020 before gradually declining.

Old-age dependency ratio by area over time (2000 - 2030)

London has a lower old-age dependency ratio than the rest of England; in Inner London in 2018, there were 13 people over the age of 65 for every 100 working-age adults. This compares to 21 in Outer London and 31 in the rest of England. 

The dependency ratio reflects the degree to which the working-age population and national and local government might need support those who are retired. As the population ages, the dependency ratio is projected to increase. The dependency ratio is set to increase faster in Inner London than the rest of England - by about a third versus by about a quarter - although it is starting from a lower base in Inner London.

Average travel time by public transport to jobs and services by neighbourhood income deprivation decile (2017)

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 20 minutes in London compared to 26 minutes in the rest of England. 

Based on 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 is more than 20% 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 opportunities provided by the city’s publi…

Proportion of households in poverty by family type (2017-18)

Poverty rates amongst most household types in London are higher than in the rest of England. For example, the poverty rate for couple pensioners (21%) in London is almost twice that of couple pensioners (12%) in the rest of England. Similarly, 29% of couples with children are in poverty in London compared to 21% in the rest of England. The exception is couples without children, where poverty rates (12%) are the same in London and the rest of England.

Single parents with children are more likely to be in poverty than any other type of household. Over half of single parents in London (53%) were in poverty, more than four times the proportion of couples without children. 

The biggest difference in the composition of those in poverty between London and the rest of England is the proportion of those in poverty accounted for by single people wit…

Poverty rates by demographic characteristics in London (2017/18)

Poverty rates vary significantly across different demographic groups in London and the rest of England.

Overall, poverty rates amongst men and women are similar. However, in the rest of England both men and women have a lower poverty rate (with 20% and 22% respectively) compared to those in London (27% and 28% respectively).

Within London, poverty rates are almost twice as high for BME groups (38%) as for white groups (21%). Amongst the different family types, single parents with children are most likely to experience poverty. In London, 54% of this group were in poverty in 2017/18. Between 2013/14 and 2017/18, London pensioners experienced the largest increase in poverty rates. The poverty rate for couple pensioners rose by 5 percentage points (from 15% to 20%) and for single pensioners by 5 percentage points (from 22% to 27%).

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