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Employment and income

Employment and Occupation

There were an estimated 75,800 Bedford Borough residents aged 16-74 in employment at the time of the 2011 Census, an increase of 5,300 (7.5%) since 2001. 

This includes 10,800 self-employed, an increase of 26% compared to 8,600 in 2001. 

In addition there were 5,100 people unemployed and seeking work. 

A principal feature of the employment structure of Borough residents is the over-representation of public administration, education and health (30.5%) compared to England (28.2%) and the region (27.0%)1.

Employment by occupation is broadly in line with national averages. Around 29% of those in employment are engaged in managerial and professional occupations compared to 28.4% in England; 22% in administrative and skilled trades compared to 23% in England; and 12.4% in unskilled jobs compared to 11% in England2

Detailed 2011 Census breakdowns of the industry of employment and the occupation of Borough residents, by gender, are available here

Economic Inactivity

The most recent data on economic inactivity for the working age population (16-64) is available from the Annual Population Survey (APS) for July 2014 - June 2015, though this is based on only a very small sample of the Borough’s residents and should be treated with great caution.

The APS indicates that there were approximately 18,400 economically inactive people aged 16-64 on average during that period. This represents 18.4% of the working age population, and compares to 22.3% in England and 19.9% in the East of England.

Of the 18,400 working age adults who were economically inactive, 2,900 indicated that they wanted a job, and 15,500 did not want a job, primarily due to being full-time students, looking after the home, or being retired.

People with disabilities are far less likely to be in employment than those without disabilities.    Of those Borough residents who described their health as Very Bad or Bad only 29% were economically active and only 17% in full-time employment.  This compares to 82% and 55% among those with Very Good or Good health.3

Economic inactivity levels also vary by ethnicity, particularly among females.  For example, the 2011 Census estimates that 20% of the Borough's total female population aged 25-49 is economically inactive.

However, there is great variation by ethnicity, with particularly high levels of economic inactivity among Gypsy or Irish Travellers (71%), Bangladeshi (70%) and Pakistani (54%), though cultural factors clearly influence these levels of inactivity.



The 2011 Census estimates that 53,570 (70.2%) of the 76,270 Borough residents aged 16+ who were in employment  worked within Bedford Borough.  This represented a reduction over the 71.1% who worked in the Borough in 2001.

Principal workplaces outside the Borough included Central Bedfordshire (5,510), Milton Keynes (3,910), London (3,350), Cambridgeshire (2,220) and Northamptonshire (2,020).

While 22,700 Borough residents commuted out of the Borough to work, there were 21,400 people who commuted into the Borough, including large numbers from Central Bedfordshire (6,990), Northamptonshire (4,410), Cambridgeshire (3,110) and Milton Keynes (2,130).

On balance, more people commute out of the Borough to work than travel here to work.  However, between 2001 and 2011 the level of net out-commuting declined from 2,160 to 1,290 so the balance of  working residents to available jobs in the Borough improved. 



1 ONS, 2011 Census, Table KS605EW
2 ONS, 2011 Census, Table KS608EW
3 ONS, 2011 Census, Table CT0126

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