Unemployment figures hit 4.5 per cent, as captured in the 2021 census. Though this data is an increase from the 3.8 per cent figure of 2019, it was a significant drop compared to the 8.1 per cent figure recorded in the 2011 census.

The new census release also shows 19.1 million (39.4 per cent) people as economically inactive. This includes anyone aged 16 and over unemployed and not currently looking for employment.

Just over 60 per cent (29.4 million) residents were instead counted as economically active. Economically active figures include working people and people currently waiting to start a job. This number also includes people on furlough, as they were considered as being temporarily away from work.

The census, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), shows that almost half of economically people were employees (23.1 million), 1 in 10 were self-employed (4.7 million) and a further 3.4 per cent (1.7 million) were looking for work.

The coronavirus pandemic certainly took a toll on the job market, pushing 3.8 million employees in England and Wales to join the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

There has been a 4 per cent decrease in employment figures in the capital since 2011. Amongst the boroughs with the highest 2021 employment rates stand out Wandsworth (69.6 per cent) and Lambeth (68 per cent). Overall, the south London boroughs appear to have some of the highest employment rates throughout London, despite the pandemic.

With the pandemic altering the working habits of many, amongst the data collected were details on the percentage of people working from home: 8.7 million people in England and Wales (31.2 per cent of all in employment) described themselves as working from home. The number spiked to 42.1 per cent in London.

Unchanging commuting habits include travelling by car: 12.5 million people travelled to work by driving a car or van (45.1 per cent), a percentage which ranged from 20.6 per cent in London to 53.2 per cent in the East Midlands.

According to a report by Central London Forward, the partnership of the 12 central London boroughs, the UK has “entered a prolonged recession”. Paired with the Bank of England’s projections on unemployment and rising cost of housing crisis this could have a dramatic impact on rough sleeping figures.


Economic justice campaigner and political economist Richard Murphy points to the BoE’s increasing interest rates as the root cause of this, condemning them as reckless.

In their November 2022 report, the BoE explained such choices as the only way to decrease inflation. In a press conference, Governor Andrew Bailey had previously admitted that “the road ahead will be a tough one”. However, Bailey said he had faith that the economy will recover.