Pub jobs up despite rise in closures in past decade

Andrew Cummings
November 28, 2018

New data published by the Office of National Statistics shows that the number of small village pubs have been hardest hit. Meanwhile the total employment of small pubs has dropped 41%, while employment by medium and large pubs has grown 29%.

Areas on the edges of big cities have felt the closures of pubs most severely, said the ONS.

There are also far fewer pubs in areas around Manchester, such as Rochdale, where there are now a net 105 fewer pubs than in 2001. The ONS data shows that it is big pub chains that are largely to blame.

The closures are dominated by small independent and tenanted pubs, down 12,035 (-36%) between 2001 and 2018, while the number of large managed pubs grew by 720 (+47%).


However, employment in the sector picked up subsequently and there are now 6% more jobs in pubs and bars than there were in 2008.

The number of pubs fell from around 50,000 to 39,000 in 2018 alone. But the number of independently-owned larger pubs is steadily rising.

This increase is even more significant in rural pubs, which have seen a 17% improvement in employment rates.

The remaining pubs and bars appear to have soaked up the custom from those pubs that have closed down.


Disappearing small pubs - those with fewer than 10 staff - underpin a wider trend that has seen the overall number of watering holes decline.

That said, the vast majority are failing to pay their staff the Living Wage, which now stands at £10.55 per hour in London and £9 per hour elsewhere.

The rise in larger pubs has been linked to a focus on food, as big pub companies made the shift following the 2007 indoor smoking ban. This rate, now £10.55 per hour in London and £9 per hour elsewhere, is sometimes called the "real" living wage, and is based upon full-time workers being able to afford a basic set of goods and services.

Nationally the total turnover of pubs has remained stable as fewer, bigger pubs do more business.


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