Click on the infographic for the key facts from this indicator group. Economic participation infographic - please email info@gcph.co.uk for a transcript or an accessible version.

Please note the economic data presented currently, precedes the Covid-19 pandemic.

Employment and jobs

  • Glasgow has had a higher business start-up rate than the Scottish average in recent years, although in 2017 the business survival rate after five years was only 37.5%.
  • Glasgow has more jobs per resident than any other local authority in the Glasgow City Region, reflecting its position as the West of Scotland’s economic hub. In recent years, Glasgow has had a similar job density to Edinburgh, although both cities have a lower job density than Aberdeen.
  • 66% of working age Glaswegians were employed in the year 2018/19, which was nearly 9% lower than in Scotland as a whole.
  • Underemployment in Glasgow (reflecting the number of employees who want/need to work more) has fallen from 15% in 2013 to 9% in 2018.


  • Glasgow has consistently had a higher rate of adults claiming out-of-work benefits than other Scottish cities although that rate has declined from 29.5% in 2000 to 15% in 2019.
  • Similarly, the city has had a relatively highly rate of adults claiming incapacity benefits and ESA (Employment and Support Allowance), albeit that rate has also reduced significantly (from 17.6% in 2000 to 9.8% in 2019).

Economic inactivity, worklessness and unemployment

  • 30% of the working age population in Glasgow was economically inactive in 2018/19, which is considerably higher than the Scottish average.
  • The ILO unemployment rate for Glasgow increased from 6.5% in 2007/08 to 12% in 2011/12, but has since decreased. The ILO unemployment rate for Glasgow was 5.8% in 2018/19.
  • In 2018, 26% of households in Glasgow had no adults in employment. This figure is the highest rate among Scottish cities, within the Glasgow City Region and among UK cities.

Economic participation is recognised by economists, governments and policy makers as a key component of successful economies.  Good quality employment provides a means for individuals to gain social and economic opportunities and to contribute constructively to society.  The links between health and socioeconomic circumstance are well recognised.  The WHO (World Health Organisation) report The Solid Facts – Social Determinants of Health (2003) noted that "unemployment puts health at risk" and goes on to underline that "unemployed people and their families suffer a substantially increased risk of premature death" and that "the health effects of unemployment are linked to both its psychological consequences and financial problems, especially debt".

This section currently includes indicators of incapacity and workless benefits, economic inactivity, business start-ups, job density, employment, unemployment and underemployment.

The data on the Understanding Glasgow website comes from a variety of administrative sources and surveys, and the frequency of updates to these sources varies. The graphs and text on each page should indicate the period to which an indicator refers.  In some cases, where more recently published data is not available, we still use older published sources, such as the 2011 Census. Find out more about the timeliness of data presented on this website.


1. Many of the trends described above have been strongly influenced by the global financial crisis (which began in 2007-2008) as well as by recent welfare policy changes.  

2. These data pre-date the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Additional Resources

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    Your Better Life Index

    A new, interactive index allowing users to measure and compare their lives.
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    Friday, 25 March 2011

    Monitoring Glasgow 1990

    A report following Glasgow's year as European City of Culture, by John Myerscough
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    Wednesday, 22 December 2010

    Economy & Labour Market Briefing

    A review of economic and labour market data, with projections on what they mean for Glasgow.
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    Monday, 26 April 2010

    Economies of Life

    An exploration of the principles of ecological and economical thinking and their relationship.
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    Monday, 1 March 2010

    Towards a Smarter Glasgow

    A report which covers various aspects of the skills and educational performance of Glasgow, drawing conclusions on Glasgow’s performance in relation to the strategic objective of creating a Smarter Scotland.
  • Resource
    Monday, 1 February 2010

    Towards a Wealthier & Fairer Glasgow

    A report which examines the Purpose Targets set out in the National Performance Framework for Scotland, before a conclusion on Glasgow’s performance in relation to the strategic objective of creating a wealthier and fairer Scotland.
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    Sunday, 15 November 2009

    A Step Change for Glasgow – Assessing Progress against Targets

    Assessment of progress towards the targets laid out in 2006's A Step Change for Glasgow strategy.
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    Wednesday, 19 August 2009

    A Games Legacy for Glasgow

    Brochure outlining the potential legacy of Glasgow's role as Commonwealth Games host city in 2014.
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    Monday, 3 April 2006

    Let Glasgow Flourish

    A comprehensive report on health and its determinants in Glasgow and West Central Scotland
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