Work & Poverty

Mapping Work & Poverty

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This theme is concerned with who was able to find work, and the consequences for those who could not. The census is not the ideal source to study these questions, because it is taken only every ten years, and we plan to add additional information from other sources such as the records of National Insurance and the Poor Law system, and their modern equivalents, Job Seekers Allowance and Income Support.

For now, our only non-census data here comes from the trade union-run welfare system that laid the foundations for the National Insurance system before the 1914-18 war. One strength of census data on unemployment is that it is relatively little affected by the changing rules of benefit systems, although we do add numbers on government training schemes to our figures for 1991.

For most of the twentieth century, the unemployment rate among women was of limited value. Many women were not involved in paid work, and even those with jobs had problems claiming benefits when they lost them. We therefore concentrate instead on the "activity rate", which measures what proportion of women were economically active, either in work or looking for it.

All available maps for the theme Work & Poverty

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Administrative County Local Government District Modern (post 1974) County District/Unitary Authority Scottish County Urban Labour Market
Female Activity Rate 1921 - 1931
1921 - 1931
1931 - 2001
1931 - 2001
N/A N/A
Male Unemployment 1931
1931
1931 - 2001
1931 - 2001
N/A N/A
Claimant Count Unemployment 1927 - 1939
N/A N/A N/A 1927 - 1939
1927 - 1939

Redistricted data on Work & Poverty

These notes concern the historical statistics for modern local authorities, which have been created for Vision of Britain by re-districting statistics originally reported for other units. We have also had to deal with variations in the categories and classifications used in statistical reporting over the years.

  • 1909: The unemployment rates combine data from the Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE) and the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners (ASC&J), using the Monthly Reports of the two trade unions for January and for July 1909. The raw data concern individual union branches. Each has been assigned to a modern local authority using grid references based on the branch's name and sometimes the detailed addresses given in the unions' publications. The unemployed were defined as all on 'Donation Benefit', in the ASE deducting those on Contingent and Full Wages benefits which were forms of strike pay. Rates were calculated by dividing the number unemployed by the eligible membership. In the ASE, this excluded apprentices, and in the ASC&J it excluded those on Superannuation benefit. The unemployment rates reported are averages of January and July rates calculated for each modern authority area. Only areas where the reporting membership was at least 50 in both months are included.
  • 1931: The original sources are tables 16 'Occupations of Males and Females aged 14 years and over', for large towns, and table 17 'Occupations (Condensed List) of Males and Females aged 14 years', for small towns and Rural Districts, in Census, 1931: Classification of Occupations (London: HMSO, 1934). The unemployment rate is the number out of work in all classes as a percentage of all occupied, and the activity rate is the total occupied as a percentage of the total population; in all cases, the data concern persons aged 14 and over.
  • 1951: The original sources are table 20, 'Selected Occupations with Status Aggregates', for large towns, and table 21, 'Selected Occupations with Status Aggregates - abridged analysis', for smaller towns and Rural Districts, in Census 1951 England and Wales: Occupation Tables (London: HMSO, 1956). The unemployment rate is the number out of work as a percentage of all occupied, and the activity rate is the total occupied as a percentage of the total population; in all cases, the data concern persons aged 15 and over.
  • 1971: All data are computed from the 1971 Small Area Statistics, via the Linking Censuses through Time system. Numbers 'seeking work came from tables 6, for persons not in private households, and 7, for those in private households. Numbers economically active came from table 5. These data were from the 100% population statistics and were limited to persons aged 15 and over. The equivalent population total was computed by combining data from tables 2, 4 and 20. The unemployment rate is numbers seeking work as a percentage of those economically active, and the activity rate is the number economically active as a percentage of total population.
  • 1981: All data are taken from table 5, covering residents aged 16 and over, in the 100% population tables of the 1981 Small Area Statistics, via the Linking Censuses through Time system. This lists the total number of each sex, the number economically active and the number seeking work.
  • 1991: All data are taken from table 8, 'Economic Position: Residents aged 16 and over', in the 100% population tables of the 1991 Small Area Statistics, via the Linking Censuses through Time system. This lists the total number of residents 16 and over of each sex, the number economically active and the number seeking work; we include those on government schemes with the unemployed, and use the version of the LCT data which are adjusted to allow for 1991 undercount.
  • 2001: The data are taken from table KS09 'Economic Activity: Census 2001, Key Statistics for local Authorities', combining data from KS09b for males aged 16-74 in employment and KS09c for females. These cover all persons aged 16 to 74. We defined economically active as the total of full-time employees, part-time employees, self-employed and unemployed, which excludes full-time students.