Almost 1.8 million children – one in seven in Britain – live in households in which no one works, with more than three million families in total unemployment, figures from the Office for National Statistics show.
The figures, which asre based on the Labour Force Survey (LFS) of employment, show only a minimal reduction in recent years of households where all family members are out of full-time work.
Significantly, the figures showed that fewer working-age people from Asian families were out of work– only 7.6 per cent – and 10.7 per cent of those in the white ethnic group lived in a workless household. The highest level of unemployment was among the Chinese working group, at 28.3 per cent.
The LFS estimates that, for the three months before June 2008, the employment rate for lone parents was 56.3 per cent, down 0.5 percentage points from the previous year and up 3.4 percentage points from five years earlier.
During that period, there were 3.06 million workless households, representing 15.8 per cent of all working-age households, The figures are down 0.2 percentage points from the previous year and down 0.2 percentage points from five years earlier.
Researchers using the LFS of employment established that there were 4.29 million working-age people living in workless households. That figure represented 11.4 per cent of the working-age population, down 0.4 percentage points from the previous year, and down 0.3 percentage points from five years earlier.
The study, entitled Work and Worklessness Among Households, found there were 1.77 million children in workless households, representing 5.4 per cent of all children in working-age households. That is down 0.3 percentage points from the previous year and down 0.6 percentage points from five years earlier.
The Work and Pensions minister, Anne McGuire, said: "The number of workless households is down 15,000 on the year and 185,000 since 1997, as more and more people are being supported off benefits and into work. We've cut unemployment to almost half what it was a decade ago and the numbers on out-of-work benefits have fallen by over a million.
"Since 1997, the number of children in workless households in the UK has fallen by over 480,000. To help children we must help their families, and for families work is the most important route out of poverty."