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What It Means To Be Economically Inactive In Tyne & Wear

Crowd of people with words who are the economically inactive

Are you economically inactive? Maybe, your organisation supports people who fall under the term’s umbrella. Do you think it’s just the same as being unemployed?

We explore what this term really means, its issues, and how economic inactivity is impacting the north-east of England.

What does economically inactive mean?

This term is a classification for people who are out of work long-term. According to the Office for National Statistics, an economically inactive person is someone who is out of work, has not been seeking work for the past four weeks, and will not be seeking work within the next two weeks.

Many fall into this demographic of people. Although these individuals are not seeking employment, they are technically able to be part of the labour market. Long-term sickness, parenting, or studying are a few examples which cause someone to be defined as economically inactive.

It’s important to make the distinction between unemployed and economically inactive. Whilst someone who is unemployed is defined as seeking work, the economically inactive are not looking for employment and may not be for a period of time. This means that unemployment statistics you may read about do not include people who are economically inactive.

What does it mean for Tyne and Wear?

Between July 2017 and June 2018, 179,300 people of the working population in Tyne and Wear were economically inactive – roughly 25%.  Although around 36% of these were either studying or retired, the rest were out of work due to sickness, family commitments, or other reasons. Of the total economically inactive population in Tyne & Wear, almost 25% want a job.

This means, besides over 31,300 unemployed people in the area, approximately 44,750 economically inactive people want to be in work. Therefore, the number of people in Tyne and Wear who are out of work but want a job could fill St James Park almost one and a half times.

These stark figures demonstrate the issues the region is facing.

Why is it a problem?

Not only is it easy to feel isolated in this position, ultimately, this an under-utilised population.

Most of the time, economically inactive people have some form of a barrier holding them back from jumping into work. Whether it’s a health condition limiting their working capacity or obligations at home, there are often complexities that need to be addressed.

However, it has never been easier to find unconventional careers in today’s world. With technology growth, remote working has become increasingly popular. This could make it possible for people who are forced to stay at home to work with more flexibility, be that due to parenting obligations, mobility, or health.

Furthermore, with an increasing dialogue and shrinking stigma surrounding health, employers are becoming more accommodating to people’s needs. For instance, mental health days are growing in popularity and there’s more of an expectation for businesses to be accessible as standard.

These factors should allow people who may have traditionally had issues getting into work more possible.

How we can help

Moving On Tyne & Wear (MOTW) was set up to allow people who are isolated from work due to health barriers get closer to the job market. Navigators are specially trained to help people figure out a path they may not have considered. This is particularly helpful for the economically inactive.

Perhaps, a person has spent their life in a manual job and their physical health no longer allows them to carry out that labour. They could be lacking the confidence to consider re-training and embarking on a new career. They need to work on managing their health, building their confidence, and receiving support to access the training they need. This a familiar story for many of our participants, including John. He was able to take steps forward and is now working as a bus driver.

Much like past participant James, a person could have mental ill-health stopping them from feeling like they could manage the day-to-day of work. A Navigator can help them develop coping skills, access services, and find a job that suits them. They can even help that person know how to speak to their employer about their health issues meaning they’re able to communicate openly in the workplace in the long run.

We aim to help over 1,600 people out of work due to their health get closer to employment. We’re committed to making this lasting changing in Tyne and Wear and reducing the number of people who are economically inactive.


Get in touch today to learn more about our programme or make a referral.

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