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Statistical bulletin: Workless Households for Regions across the UK, 2012 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 04 September 2013 Download PDF

In January to December 2012:

  • Glasgow and Liverpool were in the top five workless areas for the ninth consecutive year since records began.
  • 30.2% of households in Glasgow and 28.7% of households in Liverpool were workless.
  • The highest percentage of workless households in Wales was in the Central Valleys where 26.2% of households were workless.
  • Sickness, both long-term and temporary, was the main reason given for not working by people aged 16-64 years living in workless households across all the regions of England and countries of the UK.

Key definitions

  • This document is concerned with workless households in the UK for the period January to December in each year.

  • For the purposes of this bulletin, estimates only include those households where at least one person is aged 16 to 64.

  • Workless households are households where no-one aged 16 or over is in employment. These members may be unemployed or inactive. Inactive members may be unavailable to work because of family commitments, retirement or study, or unable to work through sickness/disability.

Glasgow and Liverpool are in the top 5 workless areas for the ninth consecutive year

Between January and December 2012, Glasgow City had the highest percentage of workless households (those which include at least one person aged 16 to 64 and no-one aged 16 or over is in work) with 30.2% being workless. This was up slightly on the previous year when 28.7% of households were workless.

Over the same period, Liverpool had the second highest percentage of workless households at 28.7%, down from having the highest percentage for the last four years. This was the ninth consecutive year, since records began, that Glasgow, along with Liverpool were in the top five workless areas.

The highest percentage of workless households in Wales was in the Central Valleys where 26.2% of households were workless. This area comprised of Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taff and was the ninth highest across the UK.

The common link among some of the areas with the highest percentage of workless households is that they were all heavily industrialised in the last century. Glasgow was once a major force in shipbuilding as well as other engineering, but competition overseas has seen that decline since the 1960s. Liverpool had a large manufacturing base and one of the UK’s largest docks, which have both been in decline since the 1970s. Kingston Upon Hull also saw a decline in the heavy industries and fishing that dominated the area in the last century.

In 2012, the lowest percentages of workless households in the UK were concentrated in the South of England. Hampshire had the lowest percentage, at 10.6%, followed by North Northamptonshire (11.2%), Buckinghamshire (11.3%), West Sussex (11.3%) and Surrey (11.4%).

Looking at the five areas with the highest percentage of workless households over the period 2004 to 2012, Glasgow and Liverpool remained the dominant areas. Liverpool remained in the top three throughout this period while Glasgow remained in the top four. In 2012, Kingston upon Hull and Wolverhampton both made a return to the top five. Birmingham on the other hand rose to the top five for the first time since comparable records began.

Sickness or disability the main reason for being workless across the country

Sickness, both long-term and temporary, was the main reason given for not working by people aged 16-64 years living in workless households across all the regions of England and countries of the UK.

In Northern Ireland of the people living in workless households, 33.7% said they were not working because of sickness or disability. In Scotland, 32.5% gave this reason with 29.7% in Wales and 26.5% in England. Across the regions of England the lowest percentage not working because of sickness or disability was in London where 23.7% of people in workless households gave this reason.

Focusing on people in workless households who are studying, London had the highest percentage across the UK, at 17.4%, partly explained by the many universities in the region. The South West and East of England had the highest percentage of people aged 16 to 64 in workless households giving retirement as their reason for not working. This is partly explained by both regions having a slightly higher than average age demographic.

Source: Annual Population Survey household datasets 

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Background notes

  1. Concepts and definitions:

    • Estimates within this statistical bulletin only cover households that contain at least one person aged 16 to 64.

    • A household is defined as a single person, or a group of people living at the same address who have the address as their only or main residence and either share one main meal a day or share living accommodation (or both).

    • A working household is a household that contains at least one person aged 16 to 64, where all individuals aged 16 and over are in employment.

    • A mixed household is a household that contains at least one person aged 16 to 64, where at least one person aged 16 and over is in employment and at least one other is either unemployed or inactive.

    • A workless household is a household that contains at least one person aged 16 to 64, where no-one aged 16 or over is in employment.

    • Rankings are based on Nomenclature of Units for Territorial Statistics Level 3 areas (NUTS3).

    • People refer to those aged 16 to 64.

    • Children refer to all children under 16.

  2. Workless Households for Regions across the UK, 2012: Pre-release access list

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Statistical contacts

Name Phone Department Email
Jamie Jenkins +44 (0)1633 455840 Labour market and Developments labour.market@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication .
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