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2 months ago by Debbie Lloyd

Covid-19: Where Are the Key Worker Hotspots?

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Our partners at EMSI are keeping us up to date with how the current crisis is affecting the labour market and economy. Here are some of their latest data driven insights on one of the most critical factors in the labour market in terms of keeping essential services going: key workers. Please find their report below: 

The Government has defined key workers as being those that work in the following sectors:

  • Education and childcare
  • Food and other necessary goods
  • Health and social care
  • Key public services
  • Local and national government
  • Public safety and national security
  • Transport
  • Utilities, communications and financial services

Furthermore, they have then defined these sectors as employing two types of worker: vital frontline staff, whose work is considered to be critical to ensuring that the country can continue to run smoothly, and those whose work, whilst important, is deemed to be non-critical.

We have taken these sectors and identified within them the occupations that fall into these two categories. For instance, in the Education sector we have included occupations such as school secretary as frontline, whereas occupations such as finance officer are considered as being support roles.

In terms of numbers, we have identified that there are around 6.5 million frontline workers, and 4.1 million support workers in these key sectors. That equates to roughly 20.4% and 13.2% of the entire UK workforce.

The chart below breaks this down by sector, and as you can see Health and social care, and Education are by far the biggest, employing 3.4 million (2.3 million frontline and 1.1 million support), and 2.8 million (1.8 million frontline and 1 million support) respectively. The proportion of frontline to support workers also varies from sector to sector with, for example, 37.9% of Utilities, communications and financial services being frontline workers compared to 70.4% in Public safety and national security:

Having identified these key workers, we can then use our localised insight to establish which areas of the country employ more or less of them. As you can see from the map below, there are large variations across the country, with some areas having significantly higher numbers of key workers than others. For example, whilst some areas of the country have 20% or below of their workforce in these key worker occupations, Copeland in Cumbria has around 50%, including 10,314 jobs in Utilities, communications and financial services, mainly due to the nuclear power station in Sellafield:

This sort of data can really help local decision makers plan their way through the crisis. We hope that is helpful and that you will look out for more of these updates over the coming weeks.