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.
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


Relationship between employment and health


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


How employment status affects our health


Unemployed people are more than five times as likely to have poor health than employees.

Trends and inequalities in employment


Trends in unemployment and underemployment


After reaching record lows in 2019, the share of adults who are unemployed or underemployed...


Inequalities in unemployment


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


Trends in unemployment and long-term unemployment


Unemployment rose from 2019 to 2020 following the pandemic restrictions and remained at the...


Trends in employment and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme


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

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Family, friends and community

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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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