Fieldhouse E, Hollywood E. Life after mining: hidden unemployment and changing patterns of economic activity amongst miners in England and Wales, 1981-1991. Work Employment and Society 1999; 13 (3): 483-502

Official counts of unemployment in the coalfields have not reflected the large-scale losses of thousands of jobs from the mining industry in the 1980s and 1990s. Recent studies have suggested that there are indeed high incidences of unemployment among ex-miners and that much of the unemployment in the coalfields is 'hidden', masked by the removal of miners from the official unemployment register through early retirement or being classed permanently sick. This paper examines how miners have been absorbed into the labour market over a ten-year period, between 1981 and 1991. Using data from the ONS Longitudinal Study a sample of miners are identified in 1981 and their labour market position in 1991 examined. The data are used to highlight changes in occupation, employment status and social class. In addition, regional differences in unemployment and joblessness are assessed.