Workless households

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • Around 45% of lone parents – and 40% of single adults without dependent children – are workless.  This compares with 8% of couples without dependent children and 6% of couples with children.  In other words, single adult households – both with and without children – are much more likely to be workless than couple households.
  • For most household types, the proportion who are workless is somewhat lower than a decade ago.  The exception is single adult households without dependent children, where the proportion has remained broadly unchanged throughout the last decade.
  • More than half of all workless, working-age households are single adults without dependent children.  A further fifth are lone parents.
  • The statistics above illustrate why lack of work can be even more serious for a single adult household than for a couple: if a single adult is workless, then (by definition) the whole of the household is workless and there is no earned income; by contrast, for a couple, the spouse may be working, perhaps with substantial earnings.

Definitions and data sources

For each of a number of working-age household types, the first graph shows the proportion of the households who are workless (i.e. households where none of the adults are working).  The four household types shown are lone parent households, single adults without dependent children, households with two or more adults but no dependent children, and households with two or more adults and one or more dependent children.

The second graph shows the proportion of all workless, working-age households who are in each household type.  To improve its statistical reliability, the data is the average for the latest three years.

The data source for both graphs is the Labour Force Survey (LFS).  The data for each year is the average for the 2nd and 4th quarters, analysis by household type not being available for the 1st and 3rd quarters.

In both graphs, a working-age household is one in which at least one of the people is aged 16 to 59/64.  Households which are entirely composed of full-time students have been excluded from the analysis, as have households where their economic status is not known.

In both graphs, full-time students have been excluded from the calculations to decide whether the household has one or more than one adult.  So, for example, a household comprising one full-time student and one other working-age adult has been allocated to the ‘one adult’ household type.  In line with ONS methods, children comprise all those under the age of 16 (i.e. not including people aged 16 to 18 in full-time education).

Overall adequacy of the indicator: high.  The LFS is a well-established, quarterly government survey designed to be representative of the population as a whole.