Work and Poverty

Mapping Work and Poverty

Use the map selector to access all available maps of Work and Poverty, or just choose one of these:


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 and Poverty

Select a particular date to choose a combination of rate, unit type and date.

District/Unitary Authority Government Office Region Administrative County Local Government District Poor Law/Registration County Scottish County Urban Labour Market
Able-bodied Male Pauperage N/A N/A N/A N/A 1859 - 1911
N/A N/A
Female Activity Rate 1931 - 2011
1931 - 2011
1921 - 1951
1921 - 1951
N/A N/A N/A
Male self-employment 1951 - 2011
1951 - 2011
1951
1951
N/A N/A N/A
Male Unemployment 1931 - 2011
1931 - 2011
1931 - 1951
1931 - 1951
N/A N/A N/A
Claimant Count Unemployment N/A N/A 1927 - 1939
N/A N/A 1927 - 1939
1927 - 1939
Percentage on 'Welfare' N/A N/A N/A N/A 1859 - 1919
N/A N/A

Redistricted data on Work and 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: For England and Wales 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). Scottish data are drawn from Table 16, "Industries of Males and Females, aged 14 years and over, in Cities, Counties and Large Burghs", in Census 1931: Scotland: Occupations and Industries. 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 for England and Wales 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). For Scotland, data are taken from Table 13, "Industries of Occupied Population aged 15 and over by Place of Work. Scotland, Cities, Counties and Large Burghs", pp. 434-69 in Census 1951: Scotland: Industry Tables (Edinburgh: HMSO, 1957). 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.
  • 1961: Data on employment status was included in the occupation tables published from the 1961 census but were based on a ten per cent sample, and published only for counties and for urban units over 50,000 population, in England and Wales, or over 10,000 in Scotland. To create estimates for all remaining local government areas, we have allocated county residuals in proportion to the total number of persons of the relevant sex aged 15 and over. All counts were then multiplied by ten to balance the effect of sampling, then re-districted to modern local authorities in the same way as 1951 or 1971. Employment status counts for England and Wales were taken from Table 1, "Occupation and Status", for "County, County Boroughs, Urban areas with populations of 50,000 or more, County Remainders, Conurbation Centres, New Towns (10 per cent sample)", in the series of County Leaflets Occupation, Industry, Socio-economic groups. Data for Scotland were were transcribed from Table 1, "Occupation and Status", for "Cities, Counties, Large Burghs, Small Burghs with populations of 10,000 or more, County remainders, Conurbation Centre, New Towns (10 per cent sample)", in the series of leaflets Occupation, Industry and Workplace, which cover Scotland in a series of regions.
  • 1971: Data for modern local authorities were created by redistricting data from the 1971 Small Area Statistics for 125,476 1971 Enumeration Districts across Great Britain, obtained via the CASWEB system. All data were taken from tables 6 and 7, which respectively cover persons not in private households and persons in private households, and are otherwise identical in structure. The population of working age is the total population less those aged 14 and under. The economically active are those listed as "Working" plus those "Seeking Work"; the tables also list those "Sick" but do not distinguish between short- and long-term sickness. The unemployed are those "Seeking Work".
  • 1981: The redistricting is based on data for 10,903 wards, in England and Wales, and postcode sectors in Scotland. They are taken from tables 5, "Economic Position", and 7, "Employment Status", in the 100% population tables of the 1981 Small Area Statistics. Both tables cover residents aged 16 and over, and were obtained via the CASWEB system. The working age population covers everyone aged 16 and above. The economically active include those "Working", "Seeking work" and "Temporarily sick" but not those "Permanently sick". Numbers self-employed come from table 7 and combine "Self-employed without employees" and "Self-employed with employees".
  • 1991: The redistricting is based on ward-level data in table S08, "Economic position: Residents aged 16 and over" in the 100% population tables of the 1991 Small Area Statistics, obtained via the NOMIS system. Numbers economically active are defined in the source table. Numbers unemployed include the substantial numbers who were listed as being "On a Government scheme".
  • 2001: The data all come from Tables 9b, "Economic activity - males" and 9c, "Economic activity - females" in the Key Statistics release from the 2001 Census of Population, and were downloaded from the CASWEB system on 21st February 2017, but the original geographies used vary: CAS Wards for England, CAS Electoral Division for Wales and ST (Standard Table) Postcode Sectors for Scotland.
  • 2011: The data are taken directly from tables "KS603EW - Economic Activity - Females" and "KS602EW - Economic Activity - Males" from the Key Statistics for local authorities in England and Wales, and from tables "KS603SC - Economic Activity - Females" and "KS602SC - Economic Activity - Males" for Scotland. We follow those tables' definitio of the economically-active, which includes some students.