Economic inactivity by reason

Reasons why the working age population are not active in the labour market

Economic inactivity measures those that are not in work or unemployed.  Individuals can be economically inactive for a wide range of reasons (both positive and negative) including that they are in education, have health issues or disabilities that prevent them from work, have caring responsibilities or have retired. These non-workers are not classified as unemployed because, at the time of the survey, they are not actively seeking employment. However, despite this, many economically inactive people state that they would like a job in their survey response. 

In the Jan 2020-Dec 2020 twelve-month period, among economically inactive 16 to 64 year-olds in the North East LEP area:

  • A higher percentage than nationally cited long-term or temporary sickness as a reason for their economic inactivity
  • a lower proportion than nationally were inactive due to study
  • the percentages of inactivity due to looking after home / family or early retirement were similar to those in England excluding London
  • respondents were more likely to say they wanted a job than nationally, even though they were classified as not actively looking for work.

Within the North East, among local authority areas, the percentage of inactive working age people citing specific reasons for inactivity was highest in:

  • Temporary or long-term sickness: Gateshead and Sunderland (both about 47%)
  • Study: Newcastle upon Tyne (about 33%)
  • Looking after home and/or family: County Durham and South Tyneside (23% and 22%, respectively)
  • Retirement: Northumberland and North Tyneside (24% and 19%, respectively)

In the six years since 2014, the numbers of economically inactive 16 to 64 year olds in the North East citing study, looking after home or family and early retirement have all decreased quite substantially but the number citing sickness has slightly increased.  The number of economically inactive people wanting a job was lower in Jan-Dec 2020 than six years earlier.

Compared to a year earlier, the latest data shows a recent, small, increase in inactivity due to early retirement and a small decrease in inactivity due to sickness. The latest statistics cover a twelve-month period, a quarter of which was before the economy was affected by Covid-19.

Economic inactivity by reason, North East LEP, England, England excluding London

Last updated:
28/04/2021
Published by:
North East LEP

Source: Annual Population Survey  [Nomis, last updated 20 Apr 2021]

Data information: Percentage of all economically inactive people (aged 16-64) by main reason cited for inactivity and whether a job is wanted. Based on North East LEP area, England, England excluding London. Categories in the published data have been combined.


Economic inactivity by reason, North East LEP local authorities

Last updated:
28/04/2021
Published by:
North East LEP

Source: Annual Population Survey  [Nomis, last updated 20 Apr 2021]

Data information: Percentage of all economically inactive people (aged 16-64) by main reason cited for inactivity. "Other, including discouraged" is not charted. Based on local authority areas. Categories in the published data have been combined.


Economic inactivity by reason, North East LEP, since 2014

Last updated:
28/04/2021
Published by:
North East LEP

Source: Annual Population Survey  [Nomis, last updated 20 Apr 2021]

Data information: Economically inactive people (aged 16-64) by main reason cited for inactivity and whether a job is wanted. Categories in the published data have been combined.