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Employment

Introduction

Reading has a strong labour market, a high rate of employment and higher than average earnings, but census and other data suggest that areas with high deprivation and low qualifications and areas where there are a high number of residents not proficient in English are disproportionately affected by unemployment and low earnings.

What do we know?

In 2014 Reading had a working age population of 109,000, equivalent to 67.8% of the total population. This is a slightly higher proportion than the rest of the South East (62.4%) and the rest of Great Britain (63.5%) (Office of National Statistics) population estimates, 2014, National Online Manpower Information System (NOMIS), Labour Market Profile - Reading), which is consistent with the younger profile of the population in Reading. (See population section).

What do we know about those in work?

Between October 2014 and September 2015, 85,600 people (76.3% of the population) were 'economically active' (in work, seeking work or waiting to start work). This is comparable with the proportion for Great Britain in the same period (77.7%) and lower than the South East where the proportion was 80.3%. This difference may be attributed to the student population in Reading, which accounted for 38.3% of those who are economically inactive, compared to 26.4% in the South East and 26.2% in Great Britain. Overall, full time workers in Reading earn more than the average for all of Great Britain, but slightly less than the average for all full time workers in the South East. The discrepancy between male workers' and female workers' pay is lower in Reading than the rest of the South East. (In 2015, male workers earned slightly less than the average for male workers in the South East, but more than the total South East average; while women workers earned slightly more than the average for female workers in the South East, but slightly less than the total South East average.)

Reading has a high ratio of total jobs to population - 1.0 (or a job for every working age person) compared to 0.83 in the South East and 0.8 in Great Britain (ONS Jobs Density 2013, NOMIS, Labour Market Profile - Reading, 2016). Most jobs in Reading in 2014 were in the provision of services (91,200, or 94.4%). Reading had a higher proportion of jobs in this industry than the South East and Great Britain (87.6% and 85.6%). Other significant sectors were: the provision of financial services (26,300, 27.2% - a slightly higher proportion than the South East (22.5%) and Great Britain (22.2%)); and public administration, education and health (22,300, 23.1% - a slightly lower proportion than in the South East (25.6%) and Great Britain (27.4%)) (ONS Business Register and Employment Survey, NOMIS, 2016).

ONS annual population survey data indicates that 29.7% of Reading residents who were in work were employed in professional occupations, a higher proportion than in the South East (21.7%) or in Great Britain (19.7%). By contrast, a smaller proportion of Reading residents are employed in skilled trades (7.8%, compared to 10.1% in South East and 10.6% in Great Britain) and caring, leisure and other service occupations (7.5%, compared to 8.9% in the South East and 9.3% in Great Britain) (NOMIS, Labour Market Profile - Reading, 2016).

Figure 1 demonstrates some variation in occupation by the area of residence, with those living in more affluent areas more likely to work in management and professional occupations and those living in more deprived areas more likely to work in caring, leisure, customer services and sales and operative and elementary occupations. ONS data also suggests differences in occupation according to ethnicity, with 68.2% of those employed in management and professional occupations reporting their ethnicity as White British, compared to 56.5% of those employed in operative or elementary occupations (Census, 2011).

This suggests that, while those in work in Reading are more likely to be employed in a well-paid job than elsewhere, access to such jobs may be more difficult for already disadvantaged groups. Reading Borough Council's Tackling Poverty Needs Analysis (2015) highlights that, although Reading has above average median earnings, the number of working households in poverty (in receipt of benefits and with an income less than 60% of median income) has increased. This follows a national trend, employment rising and real earnings falling between 2009 and 2014, resulting in slightly more than half of all children living in poverty living in a working family (Belfield, Cribb, Hood and Joyce) 2015; Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2015). Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2015) also suggests that individuals from minority ethnic groups may be more likely to work in a low-paid occupation and their income is less likely to increase.

Figure 1: Occupation Group by Ward Deprivation Quartile

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Source: Census 2011 (ONS Employed Population Count).

What do we know about those seeking work?

Between October 2014 and September 2015 an estimated 4,500 people were unemployed and looking for work (2,800 men and 1,600 women). 1,300 people claimed Job Seeker's Allowance in December 2015. Of these, the majority (755) had claimed for 6 months or less. Around two thirds of claimants were aged 25-49 (800, 62%) and two thirds were male (805, 62%) (ONS Annual Population Survey, NOMIS, Labour Market Profile - Reading, 2016).

Figure 2 demonstrates that the many of the wards with areas of greatest overall deprivation also have the highest proportions of unemployed residents. Some wards, particularly some geographically central wards (Battle, Minster, Abbey and Katesgrove) appear to have a higher proportion of unemployment than would be expected (Census, 2011). It is possible to see peaks in unemployment in wards where there are high numbers of households where English is not spoken as a main language, although the relationship is not straightforward (see Figure 3). This is consistent with Census Analysis findings that indicate that those not proficient in English had a lower rate of employment (ONS, 2014).

Figure 2: % unemployed and seeking work by ward

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Source: Census 2011

Figure 3: Comparison of ward ranks by % unemployed and number of households where English is not spoken as main language

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Least deprived - Most deprived

Source: Census 2011

Qualifications

In 2014, 45.7% of residents had the highest level of qualifications recorded (Higher National Diploma, Degree or Higher Degree), a higher proportion than across in the South East (39.1%) and Great Britain (36.0%). The lower proportion of residents with no qualifications in Reading is lower than for Great Britain (6% and 8.8% respectively), and similar with the proportion in the South East (5.6%). (ONS Annual Population Survey, NOMIS, Labour Market Profile - Reading, 2016).

Again, although the level of education across the borough is generally high, analysis of residents' qualifications by ward demonstrates that those wards that include the areas of highest deprivation in the borough (Whitley, Norcot and Southcote. See deprivation by ward and Lower Super Output Area module) have the highest number of residents with no qualifications (Figure 4) (Census, 2011).

Figure 4: % residents with no qualifications by ward

image4

Source: Census 2011

This suggests a complex picture. While unemployment appears to be linked to areas where there is high deprivation and a high proportion of residents with low qualifications, it may also be prevalent where qualifications are relatively high but where there are more residents without proficiency in English.

What do we know about those who not in work and not seeking work?

The largest proportion of those not seeking work in Reading were students (38.3%). As a university town it is not surprising that Reading has a higher proportion than either the South East or Great Britain (26.2% and 26.4% respectively). Reading has similar or lower proportions of people who looked after family or home, or were sick or retired.

As elsewhere, women are less likely than men to be economically active - 70.9% of women compared to 81.5% of men were in work or seeking work. Women were much more likely to be 'looking after home or family' than men (4,953 women, compared to 407 men in Reading in 2011) and more likely to be retired (10,437 women compared to 7,647 men) (ONS Annual Population Survey, NOMIS, Labour Market Profile - Reading, 2016).

National & Local Strategies (Current best practices)

Reading Borough Council (RBC)'s Corporate Plan includes plans to ensure that young people in Reading have the skills and experience to meet the needs of business and support economic growth (RBC Corporate Plan, 2016-19).

In addition, the Council's 'Tackling Poverty Strategy' (RBC, 2013) highlights unemployment and low income in some areas of the town and sets out commitments to provide opportunities for residents to develop desirable skills through volunteering and targeted interventions and to encourage and support employers to achieve living wage accreditation.

The national Child Poverty Strategy (Department for Education, 2014) focuses on addressing the root causes of poverty, including unemployment, low earnings and educational failure.

What is this telling us?

Reading has high employment and high earnings, but those from more deprived areas may be disproportionately excluded from employment, especially from the higher paid professional jobs that comprise the largest section of the job market in Reading, or may earn a very low wage. While unemployment seems largely to be linked to areas of high deprivation and a higher proportion of residents with low qualifications, there also appears to be higher unemployment where residents are relatively highly qualified, but where there are higher numbers of residents without good proficiency in English.

What are the key inequalities?

Those in already deprived groups have less opportunity for well-paid employment and lower income, which is likely to have an impact on opportunity to lead a healthy and fulfilling life (Dahlgren and Whitehead, 1992).

What are the unmet needs/ service gaps?

The Council has already identified a need to ensure that residents, especially young people, have opportunity to develop skills that will enable them to find employment in Reading's high earning job market. It is important to ensure that those living in the most deprived areas of the borough are supported and encouraged to take up these opportunities. There may also be a need to support some groups to improve their proficiency in speaking English to enable them to find well paid employment.

This section links to the following sections in the JSNA:

Population Change

Ethnicity

Migration

Deprivation by Ward and Lower Super Output Area

References

Belfield, C, Cribb, J, Hood, A and Joyce, R. (2015). Living Standards, Poverty and Inequality in the UK. Institute for Fiscal Studies, London. http://www.ifs.org.uk/uploads/publications/bns/BN165.pdf

Department for Education (2014). Child Poverty Strategy 2014-2017.Department for Education, London. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/child-poverty-strategy-2014-to-2017

Dahlgren and Whitehead (1992). http://www.local.gov.uk/health/-/journal_content/56/10180/3511260/ARTICLE

Office of National Statistics, (ONS) (2014). 2011 Census Analysis, English Language Proficiency in the Labour Market. Available at http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/2011-census-analysis/english-language-proficiency-in-the-labour-market/sty-english-language-proficiency.html [Accessed 7th February 2016]. Also archived  content

ONS (2011). Census 2011 http://www.ons.gov.uk/

National Online Manpower Information System (NOMIS) (2016). Labour Market Profile - Reading. ONS. https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/

Reading Borough Council (2016). Corporate Plan 2016-2019. RBC, Reading. http://www.reading.gov.uk/media/4621/Corporate-Plan-2016---19/pdf/Corporate_Plan_2016-19_-_Building_a_Better_Borough_(subject_to_approval).pdf

Reading Borough Council (2013). Tackling Poverty Strategy. RBC, Reading. http://www.reading.gov.uk/tacklingpoverty

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