Five million want more work or better jobs in UK’s biggest cities

Over five million people want to work, want more hours or are trapped in low paid and insecure work across the UK’s 12 biggest cities, according to new report.

The report for the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) comes as new metro mayors, elected in May, complete their 100th day in office and the monthly employment figures are published.

Although the employment rate is the highest on record, the analysis of official statistics shows the scale of the challenge facing city leaders and national government to ensure everyone has the opportunity to get a good job.

In total, the analysis shows there are 5.3 million people missing out because of a ‘more and better jobs gap’ across the UK’s 12 major city region areas.

The gap is the number of people who are unemployed, underemployed or inactive because of barriers such as caring or disability, but who would want to work if jobs were available (the more jobs gap); and workers earning less than the living wage and those on insecure contracts who would prefer permanent contracts (the better jobs gap).

The report found:

  • In Manchester and Birmingham, where metro mayors were elected in May, more than half a million people are seeking more and better paid work.
  • In Birmingham, 356,000 people are either not working but want to work, or are working but want more hours.
  • In Manchester, one in five people who are in the workforce – 291,000 – are in low pay or insecure work.
  • In Liverpool and Sheffield, two fifths of the workforce are not working but would like to, want more hours, or are trapped in low pay or insecure work. This amounts to 303,000 people in Liverpool and 391,000 people in Sheffield.
The more and better jobs gap by city, 2015
City region Better jobs gap % More jobs gap % More + better jobs gap % Better jobs gap (000s) More jobs gap (000s) More + better jobs gap (000s)
Newcastle 21% 24% 41% 154 182 304
Cardiff 18% 27% 40% 140 204 308
Manchester 20% 25% 40% 292 357 582
Liverpool 18% 25% 40% 140 192 303
Sheffield 19% 25% 40% 185 248 389
Nottingham 20% 23% 39% 102 120 203
Birmingham 17% 26% 39% 235 356 540
Leeds 19% 24% 39% 227 288 464
Glasgow 15% 22% 34% 70 102 157
London 14% 23% 34% 677 1,127 1,642
Edinburgh 18% 20% 34% 128 148 244
Bristol 15% 21% 32% 92 126 198
Total 2,442 3,450 5,334

JRF is calling on city leaders to work with the Government on devising local industrial strategies that prioritise creating more and better jobs. The Government’s forthcoming report to Parliament on its progress to full employment should consider the disparities in employment rates between places and the quality of jobs on offer.

Dave Innes, economist at JRF, said:

“Britain has enjoyed a jobs miracle and the national picture on jobs is good – more people are in work than ever before. But these figures show millions of people across our big cities are missing out on this success and there is still a long way to go.

“The priority for city leaders and the government is to use the industrial strategy to create the conditions for more and better jobs, and ensure people who have been left behind can find work.”