Bigger Map Smaller Map

Currently showing:
Male Unemployment in 1931 for Administrative County

Male Unemployment in 1931 for Administrative County

In twentieth century Britain, unemployment was the primary measure of economic distress. It has been measured in various ways: by the number receiving unemployment benefit, by sample surveys and, only at ten year intervals but perhaps most accurately, by the census.

The 1931 census came in the depths of the inter-war Great Depression, and several districts like South Tyneside -- containing Jarrow -- and Merthyr Tydvil in S.Wales had unemployment rates over 25%. The census was carried out in the spring, and rates in the depths of winter would have been significantly higher. Unemployment in Lancashire and Yorkshire was generally lower but still bad. The highest rate in the south-east was 16% for Tower Hamlets in the east end of London, but most places in the south-east had rates well below 10%.

After the 1939-45 war, new economic policies reduced the impact of the trade cycle, and the 1951 census generally revealed almost full employment: the highest rate was 8% for Merthyr Tydvil, and the most conspicuous feature of the map is the high rates around the coast, due to seasonal unemployment in seaside resorts.

Following the post-war boom of the 1950s and 1960s, unemployment rose over the 1970s and 1980s. In some areas, 1991 unemployment was higher than in the inter-war slump: Knowsley, on the edge of Liverpool, had 15% unemployment in 1931 but 31% in 1991. According to the census, unemployment rates in 2001 were half those of 1991. The most obvious areas of high unemployment were in the north and west, but focusing in on the south-east shows high rates in inner London.

Rate definition

Options (reloads page)


The "Statistical atlas" lets you view our British statistical data rates by theme in their entirety as maps for both modern local authorities and historical units.

Please note that although there are some statistics within the system relating to places outside Great Britain, particularly Ireland, the majority of our statistics are British and this is reflected in the presentation of data within the Statistical atlas.

How it works

The Statistical atlas presents national views of rates. This differs from the specific numeric data for individual administrative units presented in the "Units & Statistics" part of the place pages accessed via typing in a place-name on the homepage.

Select a theme by clicking on a theme title. You must then decide whether you wish to view data for modern local authorities or historical units. At the top of the theme page are the links to rate maps for modern units. Select one to enter the atlas. Alternatively, at the bottom of the theme page are links to maps of rates only available in their historical units.

After selecting a rate we are presented with the map page showing the selected rate. On the left hand side is the map legend and some generic subject information about the theme. Below the text is a link to the "Rate definition" which takes you out of the statistical atlas and into the description of the nCube for that theme within the data documentation system.

Beneath this are various "Options" for altering the mapped rate. With the exception of the "Political Life" theme, drop down menus exist to change the mapped rate or to select an alternative unit type. All themes have the option to select alternative dates. Selecting a different date will change the map to display re-districted data i.e. statistics which are estimates for the same (modern) geographical area going back over time. More information on how this was achieved is available here.

The map window on the right can be zoomed and panned. Using the drop down menu at the top left of the map window you can select and add a "base layer" map image beneath the transparent statistical map to help you understand the geography of the rates. The window itself can be expanded to see a bigger map using the "Bigger map" option at the top right of the map window. If this function is enabled, the information given on the left will automatically move to below the map.

About the data

The statistics come from national overviews, including Censuses, Surveys and other collated tables. You should be aware that the same information was not always collected, the questions change over time to suit contemporary conditions. For example, in the 2011 Census English households were asked about their car ownership, but this would have been of little relevance in 1921 when very few people owned their own vehicle. Conversely, the 1951 question about whether your household had shared access or no access to piped water has disappeared because it is now assumed that all, or virtually all, households will have exclusive use of a piped hot water supply. This is why not all themes have data in all years, the dates available vary according to the questions asked.

We should also point out that we have not digitised all possible historical statistics. Although we have gone a significant way to capturing and integrating suitable tables useful for our themes, this is a labour intensive and time-consuming process. We have tried to focus on particular tables to produce runs of data and in this sense the "Population" theme is the fullest. We continue to work on improving the data, both in its consistency and its accuracy as well as its extent.