In 2002 two-thirds of the population aged 15-64 years had a job of at least twelve hours a week, a total of more than 7 million people. In addition another 700 thousand people wanted to work but had not yet found a job. The remaining 3 million people either did not want to or were not able to work. There are various reasons for this.
Not everyone who wants work is unemployed
The unemployed labour force numbered some 300 thousand people on average in 2002. The number of people who said they wanted to work was twice as large however. This is because a considerable proportion of these people cannot start a job immediately or were not actively seeking work, and are therefore not included in the unemployed labour force.
Persons aged 15-64 years without work, 2002
Many young people still in education
Labour participation is lowest among 15-24 year-olds. Only four out of ten people in this age group belong to the employed labour force. Half did not want a job because they were in school, college or university. For them, education is the nearly always the main reason for not wanting to work.
Labour market situation by age, 2002
Women less active because of care responsibilities
Eighty percent of 25-44 year-olds have a job. Another 7 percent wanted a job, but did not have one for one of a number of reasons. Only 13 percent said they did not want to work at all.
Most of the 25-44 year-olds who did not have a job said care for the family or household was the main reason for not working. These are nearly all women. Illness or disability were also regularly given as reason for not working.
Reasons for not wanting to work by age, 2002
Reasons for over-45s not wanting to work
Nearly 60 percent of over-45s had a paid job. In addition 37 percent of this age group said they did not want a paid job for a number of reasons, which were mentioned equally often. One in four people in this age group did not want to work because they wanted to retire early, or because they were too old.