Trends in unemployment over time

  • Published: Mar 19, 2013

The graph below shows the unemployment rates in different parts of the UK in 2002. The rates are for people resident in the region. This is important when we look at London, as it has a huge commuting radius, encompassing large parts of the south and east of England. 

The graph is interactive – if you click on a year  the bars will change to show the level for that year. We've chosen 2002, 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2012 to give a medium term view and more of a close-up of the last few years.  The order of the bars stays the same, though, so London is always on the far left, meaning we can compare how different regions have fared compared to each other over time.

Click here to view graph on mobile

There are lots of different changes to look at, but two or three are worth emphasising. Firstly, until 2007 London had the highest unemployment rate of anywhere in the UK. Since the recession, however, that unfortunate position is now held by the North East. Yorkshire and Humber is now second, which is especially striking given that it had a lower than average unemployment rate in 2002.

Secondly, while unemployment has risen across the UK, the rises in Scotland and Northern Ireland have been smaller than elsewhere. So much so, that unemployment is now lower in those countries than anywhere outside the south and east of England. This was not the case a decade ago. This change mainly occurred prior to the recession.

Finally, the unemployment rate fell almost everywhere between 2011 and 2012. But everywhere except the south and east of England still has a higher unemployment rate than the London did in 2002. In fact, the gap between the south and east and the rest of England and Wales is greater now than a decade ago.

So London used to have the highest unemployment rate in the UK and it is now more like the level in North and Midlands. The South East, South West and East of England always had the lowest unemployment rate and the gap from the rest of England has grown. London's "boom" has benefited the surrounding regions as well as London itself. 

This interactive graph derives from an earlier blog on the topic. Read the full blog here. Unfortunately, this visualisation cannot be viewed in older versions of Internet Explorer (IE 8 and earlier). You can download a newer version here