44. What is (was) the main activity of your organisation, business or freelance work?

Why we ask this question

Your answer helps your community by allowing your local authority to understand the local economy and labour market.

This information shows employment trends by industry. This could help local planners to prepare for changes in demand for retail space, office space and land for manufacturing.

Your local authority and central government will also use this information to make plans for housing, transport, economic development and regeneration.

This information will also help make predictions about future employment and identify any links between the characteristics of individuals and industry. For example, it could highlight a concentration of groups of people in industries linked with low-paid employment.

The census first asked this question in 1911.

Another way to ask this question is, what does the firm or organisation you work for mainly make or do at the place where you work?

This could be different to what you do in your main job.

If you're not currently working, answer about the last job you had. Enter what the firm did, or made, when you worked there.

Important information:

How to answer if the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected your organisation or firm

If you're currently working and the main activity of your organisation or firm has changed because of the coronavirus pandemic, give an answer that best describes their current activity.

If you're away from work on furlough, in quarantine or self-isolating, answer about the activity of your organisation or firm as it was before you were away from work.

Examples of main activities

Jack works as a cleaner in a primary school and is employed directly by the school. The main activity of the organisation or business he works for is "Primary education".

Some other examples of main activities or industries could be:

  • "Day care nursery"
  • "Building society"
  • "Web page design"
  • "Warden-assisted dwellings for the elderly"
  • "Corporate hospitality caterers"
  • "Road haulage contractors"

Agency workers

If you work, or worked, for an agency, give the main activity of the agency. Don't answer about the place where you work or worked.

For example, John is employed by a temping agency and works as an administrator in a school. The main activity of the organisation or business he works for would be "Temporary employment agency".

Civil servants and local government officers

If you're a civil servant, enter "Civil service" and give the name of the department, for example, "Civil service DVLA".

If you work for a local authority or in local government, enter "Local government" and give the name of your department, for example, "Planning" or "Housing".

What we mean by main job

Your circumstances may have changed during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Answer about your current main job if you have one.

If you don't have a job at the moment, answer about the most recent job you had.

If you're away from work on furlough, in quarantine or self-isolating, consider the hours you were working before being away from work.

More than one job

If you have more than one job at the same time:

  • answer about the job in which you usually work the most hours
  • if your hours are equal, use the job that pays the most
  • if your hours and pay are equal, use the one you did most recently

Changing jobs

If you're in the middle of changing jobs, answer about the main one you were doing on Sunday 21 March 2021. Only answer about your new position if you've already left your previous job.

Important information:

Not enough space

If you run out of space, enter as much as the space allows. Only enter one character per box.

Important information:

Answering for someone else

If you're answering on behalf of someone else, where possible you should ask them how they would answer. If they're away, answer as best you can.