Post-Olympic job boom in Hackney

Employment rates appear to have risen since the 2012 London Olympics

Some 25,000 jobs have been created in Hackney since the London 2012 Olympics, according to a new report.

Global advisory firm Oxford Economics recently released a study that found at least 110,000 jobs had been created since 2012 across ‘Host Boroughs’ Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham, and the Olympic Park itself, most of which have been created in Hackney.

These figures have been widely celebrated across Westminster and City Hall, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan heralding the study as “great news for East London, great news for our city and our country.”

“It shows what can be achieved by bringing together a world-class public realm, access to culture and proper co-ordination between affordable housing, social infrastructure and transport, and should be a good example of providing good growth across our city.”

However, figures from the Office of National Statistics suggest that job growth in the borough increased mostly since 2014, with employment in the borough stagnant, if anything decreasing, in the two years following the international sports event.

Pic: ONS

Though Hackney has seen significant job growth in recent years, any link to the Olympics being the cause is questionable.

Nonetheless, increasing employment in one of London’s poorest boroughs is cause for some celebration. This increase of six per cent is at a faster rate than the rest of the country (four per cent) and has brought Hackney back in line with the rest of the city in terms of employment, a place where it had not been since the beginning of 2011.

Population growth has had a significant impact on employment proportion in the last decade. According to Oxford economics’ research, across London the population has increased by 1.5 per cent annually since 2012 while the job market has only increased by one per cent annually over the same period, highlighting that Hackney is dealing better than the rest of London in creating jobs for its fast-growing population.

However, employment does not necessarily equal affluence, or even security for that matter. Poverty is still one of the biggest problems facing the borough, with Hackney council estimating that 28 per cent of children living in the borough are beneath the poverty line – meaning in their families, income is less than £13,728 a year.

People living in the borough have mixed feelings on the changes that have taken place, with Twitter users both celebrating the improved transport facilities and deriding the job market. One user, @annberesford46, complained about the majority of jobs being made up of “fewer permanent posts, more self-employed and more small business start-ups.”

Hackney being the young, creative, and exciting borough it is means that it is an area more affected by the gig economy than most. Alongside all of the oft derided, self-employed, avocado-eating millennial creatives are thousands working for Deliveroo, or Uber, or on a zero-hour contract that does not guarantee a fixed, or any, income at all.

One Hackney local [who wished to remain anonymous in fear that it could affect his job], a musician working for both Uber and Deliveroo, said: “Each week, you never really know how much you’re going to be working. It makes things difficult because can’t ever really plan for anything to far in the future. Of course it’s better than not working at all but honestly I don’t think you could support a family on this. I don’t even know if I could call it a proper job.”

From inflation, to wage stagnation, to the proliferation of zero-hour contracts, the challenges the people of Hackney face with regard cross the borough are most negatively impacted by Hackney’s ever-changing employment climate.

For those in full-time employment, median earnings have increased just 2.7% since 2012. Over the same period inflation has totalled 8.62%, meaning that over this period those in work have seen an effective decrease in what they have to spend of close to 6%.

An average person earning £21,000 in 2012 despite pay increases would effectively be over £100 worse off a month now than they were before the Olympics.

Hackney Council had not yet responded to a request for a comment at the time of publication.

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