Waltham Forest has second highest unemployment rate in London

In the years immediately before Covid, the borough boasted the fourth lowest unemployment rate
By Victoria Munro

The JobCentre in Walthamstow
The JobCentre in Walthamstow

Waltham Forest has the second highest unemployment rate in London – despite being able to boast the fourth lowest rate in the city only a few years ago.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows the average unemployment rate between July 2019 and June this year was 8.1%. 

This is a dramatic increase compared to the three previous years, when the average unemployment rate was 3.9% and among the best in London.

The situation improved slightly in the year leading up to this June, with 6.4% of the working-age population out of work, although this still represents almost 10,000 unemployed residents. 

Previous ONS date shows that, before the Covid pandemic, around 6,000 residents were claiming unemployment benefits but that this rose to almost 18,000 by November that year.

Of the local businesses trading in 2019, one out of every 20 was forced to dissolve within two months after lockdown began. 

This story is published by Waltham Forest Echo, Waltham Forest's free monthly newspaper and free news website. We are a not-for-profit publication, published by a small social enterprise. We have no rich backers and rely on the support of our readers. Donate or become a supporter.

At the time, then-council leader Clare Coghill told the Echo that unemployment was the council’s “number one priority”, adding that she wanted to help residents get “the type of jobs increasingly available in London”, such as in the tech industry.

Last year, local campaigners called on the government to reopen the borough’s second JobCentre – which was based in Leytonstone and shut in 2018 – amid a “jobs armageddon”.  

Analysis of the ONS figures by charity Trust for London shows that in recent years Waltham Forest saw by far the largest spike in unemployment in the capital.

The average unemployment rate across London for the 2019-2022 period was 5.3%. The borough with the highest average rate was Brent, with 8.2% unemployment.

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