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Employment and economic activity

The economic activity rate measures the proportion of the working age population (16 to 64) who are active or potentially active members of the labour market. A high economic activity rate means that a high proportion of people are working or available for work or training.

According to the Annual Population Survey, 2017:

  • Herefordshire had a higher economic activity rate (81%) than the West Midlands region (76%) and England (79%): this could be due to higher rate of self-employment and lower unemployment than other areas, rather than more people being employees.
  • Of those who are economically inactive the greatest proportion (of all 16 to 64 year olds) are long term sick (5%) or looking after the home or family (5%), followed by students (4%), retired (4%) and due to other reasons (2%).
  • In Herefordshire 84% of men were economically active compared to 77% of This difference in economic activity is the same as was seen nationally but smaller than regionally. The reasons for economic inactivity vary between men and women. There is greater inactivity among women in the county because of retirement and looking after the family or home.
  • The employment rate (as a proportion of those aged 16 to 64) in Herefordshire was 79%, significantly higher than that for England (75%) and the West Midlands region (72%) – figure 1.

Figure 1: Employment rates for 16-64 years

Chart showing employment rates for 16 to 64 years in 2017 in Herefordshire, the West Midlands and England

Source: Annual Population Survey 2017

  • The self-employment rate (as a proportion of those aged 16-64) in Herefordshire was 20%; statistically significantly higher than across England (15%), and the West Midlands region (13%) – figure 2.

Figure 2: Self-employment rates for 16-64 years

Chart showing the trend in self employment rates in Herefordshire, the West Midlands and England between 2007 and 2017.

Source: Annual Population Survey 2017

  • The unemployment rate was 3% for the 16 to 64 age population, significantly lower than that for the West Midlands (5.4%) and England as a whole (4.5%)
  • The economic make-up of Herefordshire’s working age households [1] is fairly similar to England as a whole. The largest proportion of households in the county are those where all members are working (58% of the 51,100 households followed by ‘mixed households’ (employed and unemployed or inactive) make up the next greatest proportion (30%). ‘Workless households’, where every member of the household is either unemployed or inactive, make up 13% of all households.

[1] households including at least one person aged 16 to 64