London’s population overtook New York’s in 2014 and last year surpassed its pre-World War II peak for the first time ever. Yet there are increasingly news stories about how the UK’s capital is becoming a place where people work but don’t live, or how sharply rising house prices are forcing out the poor, the young or those with families.
What is actually happening? How to square the anecdotal evidence with the fact that London adds as many people as the entire city of Bath (>100,000) to its population every single year?
Britain is increasingly becoming a country of people who are on the move in search of work, data from the 2011 census reveals.
Nearly 189,000 people in England and Wales are living away from home for work-related reasons, the census found. This is the second-largest category of people with second addresses (after students living away from home), and exceeds the 165,095 people who told the census they use a second address for holidays.
The census asked people whether they had a second address for the first time in 2011, so figures for previous decades are not available. However the Office for National Statistics noted that “an increasing number of people in the UK have more than one residence … This situation led to the need for a new question to collect information on second addresses … [to] help local authorities to plan local services.”
The results make it possible to identify areas of the country with the highest proportions of people with work-related second addresses. All but one of these areas are in London (see table 1, below).
A look at recent figures for the number of job vacancies per unemployment benefit claimant shows that these areas have wildly differing levels of job availability (table 2). This suggests that the search for employment opportunities is not the driving factor.
So what is the cause? Read more
London is widely known for being a city of immigrants – famously, a third of its residents were born abroad. It’s not quite so well-known as a city of emigrants. But, at least within the UK, that is its role.
According to internal migration data recently released by the Office for National Statistics, London sees by far the greatest population loss of all the English regions. 242,000 people moved out of London in 2011. When offset against those moving to the capital, this resulted in a net loss of 40,000 people.
The big story from today’s Office for National Statistics migration figures is undoubtedly the strength of student immigration to the UK. But there is another angle, which is also worthy of attention.
More people left the UK to find work than arrived in the UK for work, according to the provisional data for 2011. That is, the net effect was the departure of 17,000 workers from the UK. This level of workers’ outward migration has only happened once before in the past decade, at the height of the recession in 2009. Read more