Less than 1% of British workers now employed in agriculture for first time in history

The figure was 1 in 5 in 1841, according to the Office for National Statistics

The proportion of workers in agriculture and fishing has slumped to a record low of 1 per cent, new figures showed today.

The number, for England and Wales, is down from 22 per cent in 1841, said the Office for National Statistics.

Over the same period, service sector employment has jumped from 33 per cent of employment to 81 per cent, while manufacturing has fallen from 36 per cent to just 9 per cent.

The research, which confirms the huge switch to services jobs, also revealed that no part of the country had as much as a quarter of its workforce employed in manufacturing.

Energy and water also accounted for only 1 per cent of employment, while construction's share of jobs moved from 5 per cent in 1841 to 8 per cent in 2011, the latest year for figures.

The highest proportion of jobs in manufacturing was in Corby, at 24 per cent; real estate activities were highest in Kensington and Chelsea, at 3 per cent; the area with the highest proportion working in education was Oxford (24 per cent); and accommodation and food services were most predominant in the Isle of Scilly, at 24 per cent of total employment.

The industry with the highest proportion of women workers was public administration, education and health, at 70 per cent, while the one with the lowest proportion was construction, at just 12 per cent.

Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary, said: "The rapid migration of the UK manufacturing jobs to low-wage economies over two decades is the long-term legacy of Mrs Thatcher's period in office. As manufacturing and extraction were the foundation of the UK economy for over a century it is too early to say what the long-term consequences are for prosperity of the UK workforce.

"The majority of workers in advanced economies are now employed in services like education, health, transport, retail and wholesale distribution, communications, hotel and catering, arts, entertainment and leisure, public administration and law enforcement.

"When North Sea oil runs out, how in the long term the UK pays for the necessary imports of energy, food and manufactured goods is still open to question. That is why GMB wants a regional and industrial strategy to revive manufacturing industry."

PA

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