The Covid Unemployment Tracker

Last updated by Lukas Kikuchi on October 8th 2021

Welcome to Autonomy’s unemployment tracker.


In order to help make sense of unemployment in the UK, we have plotted ONS claimant count data, spanning from September 2019 across the UK at the level of counties and local authorities. This way, we can see the story of unemployment from a pre-COVID period, through mid-March 2020 (when lockdown was first enacted), right up until the most recent data set. 


To do this, we’ve made an interactive map as part of our analysis – Figure 1, below.


Below the choropleth map of the UK, in Figure 2, we have charted the age and gender of those claiming for unemployment benefits – visualising these variables as percentages of the overall claimant count in a particular local authority. You can select which part of the country you want to focus on, via a dropdown box. 

Figure 1: Unemployment in the UK during the Covid era

Source: Autonomy analysis of ONS

Figure 1 plots the rate of people claiming benefit principally for the reason of being unemployed from the period between September 2019 through until October 2021. 


These represent the different dates when claimant count data was captured. The data from September 2019 through till February and March 2020  capture unemployment before the Covid lockdown (or just as Covid was beginning to affect the labour market). The 9th April 2020 data set is the first to capture the impact of lockdown.


You can select which date you would like to see represented on the map by using the slider underneath. You can also zoom in to identify particular local authorities, which can be seen by hovering your cursor over the area.


As the colour scale indicates, pale green represents a relatively low claimant count, whilst the shades of blue represent higher rates: this gives us an ‘at a glance’ guide to the UK and its regions.

The ‘Claimant Count’ is an administrative measure of the number of people claiming benefits principally for the reason of being unemployed, using individual records from the benefit system: it gives us a good, but not perfect, indication of the numbers of unemployed up and down the country.


The rate of claimants is the most useful measure of unemployment: it gives us the amount of benefit claimants – and therefore an indication of unemployment –  relative to the population in a particular area. The rate displayed in the above map is the number of claimants for every 100 persons in that region.


Headline claimant figures often obscure significant regional disparities across the UK: some places have a consistently greater unemployment problem than others. Our interactive graph above highlights this, and you can track this disparity as the Covid lockdown was enforced from mid-March 2020 onwards.

Figure 2: The age and gender composition of those filing unemployment claims across the UK as of October 2021

Source: Autonomy analysis of ONS

Figure 2 is an interactive bar chart that plots the age and gender breakdown for unemployment in the selected region for the latest claimant count.


You can select one of 216 counties / unitary authorities (or the whole of the UK) to see the readout for that area. The bars represent the percentage of unemployment that that age group makes up, as well as the male/female split in that age demographic. 


The small scroll bar is next to the dropdown list of local areas.

The Unemployment Tracker is supported by the Alex Ferry Foundation.

Note and data sources

Geographical data here.


The North:

‘North East’,
‘North West’,
‘Yorkshire and The Humber’


The South:

South East,
South West



East and West Midlands


Counties and Unitary Authorities data here.




Claimant count (monthly) here.


(Note: the claimant count figure is rounded and does away with potential discrepancies which are of the order ~50 claimants.)


(Note: age demographic findings (of claimants) are affected by the age composition in that local authority location. E.g. the workforce might be predominantly made up of young people and thus the prevalence of young people in the data for that location).


Residence-based proportions between claimants and residents: This is the official measure below national/regional level. It is available for local authorities, constituencies, travel to work areas, regions and countries and it expresses the number of claimants as a percentage of the population aged 16-64, sourced from the mid-year population estimates. At national/regional level the official measure is the workplace-based rate, but use this measure when comparing national/regional areas with smaller areas (e.g. local authorities) to ensure you are comparing like with like.