Employment and unemployment
Unemployment has consistently been found to have a negative impact on a range of health outcomes

5.1 years
is the average increase in male healthy life expectancy for every 10 percentage points higher the employment rate in an area.
2.9%
of adults are unemployed and 5.2% are underemployed.
1.5 million
adults are unemployed for the first time since 2016.
3.8 million
employees were furloughed in December 2020, down from a peak of 8.9 million in April.

Unemployment is defined as wanting but lacking paid employment, and is normally measured by whether a person is actively seeking and available for work. Unemployment has consistently been found to have a negative impact on a range of health outcomes. Reviews have found links between unemployment and self-rated health, with worse effects for men and those unemployed due to health, and ameliorated by strong social networks. There are similar relationships with mental health, including depression, anxiety and self-esteem. 

After reaching record lows in 2019, the share of adults who are unemployed or underemployed is rising again because of the pandemic. 

These charts explore the relationship between employment and health, as well as trends and inequalities in employment.

Relationship between employment and health

Analysis

Relationship between employment and health

Analysis

Higher healthy life expectancy is strongly correlated with higher employment rates, particularly for...

Trends and inequalities in employment

Analysis

Trends in unemployment and underemployment

Analysis

After reaching record lows of unemployment and underemployment in 2019, both have risen in 2020 due...

Analysis

Inequalities in unemployment

Analysis

There were falls in unemployment between 2014/15 and 2019/20 for all age groups and ethnic groups,...

Analysis

Trends in unemployment and long-term unemployment

Analysis

Before the pandemic, the overall number of unemployed adults in the UK was at a record low of 1.3...

Analysis

Trends in employment and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Analysis

The decrease in the number of employees on payroll has been minimal compared with the fall in the...

Explore other subtopics within Work
Job quality
This relates to a range of factors, including pay, security, autonomy and satisfaction
Job security
This relates to confidence in the continued existence of a job or hours of work

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Health inequalities

Money and resources

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This is part of Evidence hub: What drives health inequalities?

Data, insights and analysis exploring how the circumstances in which we live shape our health
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