London’s population is projected to decline for the first time in more than 30 years, driven by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and the reassessment of where people live during the crisis, according to a report.
Accounting firm PwC said the number of people living in the capital could drop by more than 300,000 this year, from a record high of around 9 million in 2020 to just 8.7 million. This would end decades of growth with the first annual decline since 1988.
The forecast comes as city dwellers reconsider their living situations during lockdown, and the boom in working from home during the pandemic encourages growing numbers of people to consider moving elsewhere.
Other drivers include fewer graduates moving to London, fewer job opportunities in the capital, and lower international migration to the city as a result of the pandemic and Brexit. Net migration from the EU to the UK as a whole has fallen since the 2016 Brexit vote and could turn negative in 2021, meaning that more people are leaving the UK for the EU than arriving from it, for the first time since the early 1990s, according to PwC. forecasts.
The accounting firm also said the UK could see a “baby drop” in 2021, with the annual birth rate falling to the lowest level since records began more than a century ago.
Although it will take time before official population figures are released, PwC said there were early signs that London was on track to shrink for the first time this century. Said a London Assembly August 2020 Poll It found that 4.5% of Londoners, or 416,000 people, said they would definitely move out of the city in the next 12 months.
Official figures show that unemployment in the UK is rising the fastest in London boroughs, as the country faces the deepest recession in 300 years. Job vacancies have decreased the most among the largest capitals in Europe. According to economists, London’s labor problems are a reflection of the city’s density and typical job opportunities during normal times, such as in hospitality, leisure, retail, and travel, which have been hit the hardest by the pandemic.
Londoners too more likely to work from home than anywhere else in the UK, due to a higher proportion of professional, IT and financial jobs in the city, which means that more people could move to other parts of the country if remote work practices are maintained beyond the crisis.
A decline in London’s population would represent a return to the years in the mid-20th century when London’s population collapsed after World War II, when people moved from the bombed and shelled city to live in the more leafy counties. other parts of the country, going from 8.6 million in 1939 to 6.8 million in the 1980s.
Population growth returned in the late 1980s, fueled by London’s growth as a global financial center, personified by the redevelopment of Canary Wharf in London’s Docklands. In a reversal of the mid-20th century trend, international migration helped lift the population to its pre-war peak in 2015, and it was on track to reach 10 million.
Hannah Audino, an economist at PwC, said that a sustained decline in London’s population would have far-reaching consequences for the capital’s economy, house prices and the transport network, but that it was too early to know for sure if Covid and Brexit would have a long period. term impact.
“It depends on how far remote work really becomes the new normal in the long run. A lot of people really miss the office environment, so once social distancing measures are fully history, five to ten years ago, maybe people come back to life in the city more, ”he said.
A spokesman for Sadiq Khan said the mayor of London was confident that the city would come out stronger from the Covid crisis. “The pandemic has had a profound effect on London and Londoners, but Sadiq is determined that the capital recovers to become cleaner, greener and fairer, with prosperous neighborhoods, better well-being and a strengthened healthcare system.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism