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Sharp regional and age disparities evident in workless households across the UK

29 October 2014

Commenting on today's ONS data on workless households, Geraint Johnes, director at Lancaster University’s Work Foundation, said:

 “As with other labour market statistics in recent months, the headline figures indicate a favourable trajectory. However, regional disparities are sharp - while in the South East some 12.3% of households are workless, the corresponding figure in the North East is 21.2%. Some of this is due to demographic differences, with the South East having a younger population - though the data refer only to households in the Labour Force Survey with at least one person aged between 16 and 64.

 “The proportion of people in workless households varies markedly by age, and is highest for the 50-64 age group. While some of these are retired, others are likely to have lost employment for a variety of reasons. Of these, many - including those who have experienced episodes of ill health - may be in a position to return to work, and thus represent lost output.

 “There has been a steady decline in the number of children living in workless households, down to 1.5 million from 2.4 million in 1996. The potential for unemployment to be an experience that transmits across generations means that priority should be given to reducing this figure further. Around a million of the children who currently live in workless households are living with a lone parent.

 “A continued reduction in the number of workless households would obviously be desirable. Equally, attention should be focused on the extent of engagement with the labour market. If people wish to supply their labour full-time, they should be supported to find full-time work. As far as possible they should also be supported in maximising their potential, entering quality jobs that offer the prospect of a developing career.”



Notes to editors

1. Geraint Johnes, director of Lancaster University’s Work Foundation, is available for interviews, briefings, analysis, and written comment
2.The Work Foundation aims to be the leading independent, international authority on work and its future, influencing policy and practice for the benefit of society. The Work Foundation is part of Lancaster Universityan alliance that enables both organisations to further enhance their impact.

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