The impact of the coronavirus outbreak on London’s low paid workers

Early research findings

This paper presents early findings from research examining the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on low paid workers in London. The findings are based on new analysis of labour market data and original polling.

Later this summer, the Better Work Network will publish the full findings of the research in a report highlighting the issues low paid workers have faced during the coronavirus outbreak and which will set out recommendations to support this group after coronavirus.

Key findings:

  1. Low paid workers in London are more likely to be women, young people, migrants, and those from black ethnic groups. Eight in ten (83%) low paid workers in London are women, more than two in five (45%) are migrants, one in six are black (16%) or Asian (17%), over half (56%) have lower levels of qualifications, and nine out of ten (88%) are younger workers.
  2. One in three (33%) low paid workers are in sectors that were shutdown by the pandemic. Women and those workers from black or Asian groups are disproportionately represented in these ‘shutdown sectors’.
  3. Low paid workers are more likely to have seen a reduction in their income and to be worried about their finances. One in three (33%) low paid workers saw a reduction in their household income, compared to just one in five (19%) of other workers. Two in five (39%) low paid workers said they were worried about their finances.
  4. Low paid workers were more likely to access some form of support to help them through lockdown, with 13% falling back on Universal Credit, and 4% accessing food banks or other charitable support.
  5. Low paid workers are more likely to be concerned about keeping their job than others. Two out of five (42%) low paid workers in London are worried about keeping their job, compared to one in three (32%) other workers in London.
  6. Low paid workers’ priorities for change in the aftermath of lockdown include more support with job seeking, increases in Universal Credit for job-seeekers and a rise in the minimum wage.

Next steps for the research

These early findings into the impact of coronavirus show that London’s low paid workers were disproportionately impacted by the outbreak during the lockdown, with some groups, such as women, at even greater risk. The final report will be published later in the summer. It will extend the analysis presented here, drawing further on the impact and experiences of low paid workers, a series of recommendations for policy makers.


This research was made possible by support from Trust for London.

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