Employment is good for health.  Earnings from paid employment can provide access to a good standard of living and being in work is linked to a positive sense of wellbeing. People who are not working have a higher risk of poor physical and mental health, have fewer social connections and are less active on average. 1 2  Long-term unemployment is particularly bad for health, with the effects lasting for many years.

While there is clear evidence that employment can have positive health benefits, the quality of the work itself is also important.  Being in ‘good work’ – which is safe, rewarding and provides a sense of self-worth – is what really matters for positive health outcomes. 3 4  The workplace is, therefore, an important setting for promoting health and wellbeing and can help to reverse the harmful effects of long-term unemployment and prolonged periods of ill health.

Barriers to employment including poor health, lack of education and skills, plus wider local and national political and economic factors, all mean that some people are more at risk of worklessness than others.

Both Hackney and the City of London have experienced significant economic growth in recent years, with accompanying increases in levels of employment.  However, not all sections of the local population have benefited to the same extent from these changes.

This section describes patterns of employment, unemployment and economic inactivity in Hackney and the City, exploring the links with health and wellbeing, and summarising the evidence and local practice in promoting health through employment and in the workplace. Key definitions used throughout this section are described in Box 1.

Box 1: Definitions used in this section

City daytime worker population – people who travel in to the City of London to work

Economically inactive – people without a paid job who have not actively sought work in the last four weeks and/or are not available to start work in the next two weeks.  This includes students, those who are looking after family/the home, people who are long-term sick and retired people (it does not include those who are unemployed/seeking work – see below).

Employability – a set of skills, education and other attributes that allow a person to function successfully in a role and adapt their skill set to different occupations.

National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification (NS-SEC) – one of two social classification systems used in this section. This is based on an individual’s occupation and type of employment, and is intended to capture both occupation and socio-economic status. There are eight main categories (see Table 1).

Standard Occupation Classification (SOC2010) – one of two social classification systems used in this section. This is based on an individual’s occupation. There are nine main categories (see Table 1).

Unemployed – describes people out of work and actively seeking employment.

Working age population – for the purpose of this section, people aged 16-64.A

Table 1: Socio-economic and occupational categories used in this document

NS-SEC categories
L1. Higher managerial, administrative and professional occupations
L2. Lower managerial, administrative and professional occupations
L3. Intermediate occupations
L4. Small employers and own account workers
L5. Lower supervisory and technical occupations
L6. Semi-routine occupations
L7. Routine occupations
L8. Never worked and long-term unemployed
SOC2010 major groups
1. Managers, directors and senior officials
2. Professional occupations
3. Associate professional and technical occupations
4. Administrative and secretarial occupations
5. Skilled trades occupations
6. Caring, leisure and other service occupations
7. Sales and customer service occupations
8. Process, plant and machine operatives
9. Elementary occupations

Source: ONS B

Notes: NS-SEC categories cannot be converted directly into SOC2010 major groups, nor vice versa. Data are presented in this section using the categories in the original data source.


  1. Under current legislation, the state pension age for women will increase to 65, the same as for men, in 2018.  The pension age will increase for both men and women, reaching 67 by 2028.
  2. http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160105160709/http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/classifications/current-standard-classifications/soc2010/soc2010-volume-3-ns-sec–rebased-on-soc2010–user-manual/index.html


  1. Institute of Health Inequity, “Fair Society, Healthy Lives,” The Marmot Review, 2010
  2. Lelliott, P., Tulloch, S., Boardman, J. et al, “Mental Health and Work,” Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2008
  3. Waddell, G., Burton, K., “Is work good for your health and well-being?,” The Stationery Office, London, 2006
  4. Black, C., “Dame Carol Black’s Review of the health of Britain’s working age population – Working for a healthier tomorrow,” London: TSO, 2008