Press Release

Response to the latest unemployment benefit figures

Today the ONS has released the latest data showing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment.

  • In London 300,000 people were recorded as actively searching for work as of 9 April, an increase of 110,000 people (36 per cent) from mid-February.
  • The claimant rate has increased from 3.1 per cent in February to 5 per cent as of 9 April – a similar rise to the UK average.
  • Within London, boroughs which had the highest claimant rates before the virus hit have also seen the greatest increases since the beginning of the pandemic. However, claimant rates have risen particularly steeply in outer East boroughs (Waltham Forest, Enfield, Havering, Redbridge) as well as in Tower Hamlets.

Responding to this data release, Nicolas Bosetti, Research Manager at Centre for London said:

“London’s job market has already been hard hit by coronavirus, with every single borough seeing a sudden increase in the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits. This is further entrenching existing inequalities: the boroughs that already had higher unemployment rates before the crisis are experiencing the steepest rises.”

“Outer East London boroughs seem to have been particularly affected so far. This could be because their residents are more likely to work in occupations affected by physical distancing.”

“By other measures, such as recruitment, London looks slightly more resilient than the rest of the country but the pandemic and associated lockdown have already had a huge impact on the city’s labour market.”


The figures below show the percentage of people who are claiming unemployment-related benefits and actively searching for work as of 9 April across London, and compared to the same time last year.

Notes to Editors:

  • Centre for London is the capital’s dedicated think tank. Politically independent and a registered charity, the Centre publishes research, holds events, convenes and influences to create a better city.
  • Data source: Regional labour market: Claimant Count by unitary and local authority (experimental). ONS. Retrieved on 19 May 2020.