Working age population

The main facts and figures show that:

  • according to the 2011 Census, the total population of England and Wales was 56.1 million, and nearly two-thirds of people (36.3 million) were of ‘working age’ (aged 16 to 64 years)
  • 85.6% of working age people were from White ethnic groups, 8.1% Asian, 3.4% Black, 1.8% had Mixed ethnicity, and 1.1% were from the Other ethnic group
  • among the specific ethnic groups, nearly 4 out of 5 working age people (79.2%) identified as White British
  • after White British, the groups making up the largest percentage of the working age population were Other White (5.4%), Indian (2.8%), Pakistani (1.9%) and Black African (1.8%)
  • 82.1% of people from the Chinese ethnic group were of working age, the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups
  • 49.0% of people from the Mixed White and Black African ethnic group were of working age, the lowest percentage out of all ethnic groups
Things you need to know

The percentage of people of working age within each ethnic group (between 16 and 64 years old) will be affected by the overall age profile of that group. For example, 42% of people from the Mixed ethnic group are aged under 15 years, a much higher percentage than any other ethnic group.

You can read more about the [LINK - age profiles of different ethnic groups in England and Wales].

The Census is planned and carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) every 10 years in England and Wales. The last Census was held in March 2011.

The Census is the only survey to give a detailed picture of the whole population of England and Wales. It makes it possible to compare different parts of the country as all households are asked the same questions within the same time period.

For the 2011 Census, around 25 million pre-addressed questionnaires were posted out to all households using a specially developed national address register. Households could return their questionnaire by post or complete it online. Census employees delivered questionnaires by hand to people living in residential care homes, hospitals, hostels, boarding schools, university halls of residence, mobile home parks, military bases and other communal establishments.

94% of households completed the 2011 Census. Of those, 97% answered the question about ethnicity.

What the data measures

This data shows the number of people of ‘working age’ in the population of England and Wales, and the percentage of the working age population coming from each ethnic group.

‘Working age’ in this data includes people aged 16 to 64 years.

The data also shows the percentage of each ethnic group that is of working age.

The Census is held in England and Wales every 10 years to collect data on every person living in the country on a specific date.

The census provides the only source of directly comparable statistics for both small areas and minority population groups across England and Wales.

The information the Census provides allows central and local government, health authorities and many other organisations to plan housing, education, health and transport services for years to come.

The ethnic categories used in this data

The Census uses a standard set of ethnic groups to collect and classify ethnicity data.

The 2011 Census used 18 standardised ethnic categories:

Asian / Asian British:

  • Indian
  • Pakistani
  • Bangladeshi
  • Chinese
  • Any other Asian background

Black / African / Caribbean / Black British:

  • African
  • Caribbean
  • Any other Black / African / Caribbean background

Mixed / Multiple ethnic groups:

  • Mixed White and Black Caribbean
  • Mixed White and Black African
  • Mixed White and Asian
  • Any other Mixed / Multiple ethnic background, please describe

White:

  • English / Welsh / Scottish / Northern Irish / British
  • Irish
  • Gypsy or Irish Traveller
  • Any other White background, please describe

Other ethnic group:

  • Arab
  • Any other ethnic group

Ethnic groups and how data on ethnicity is collected

Working age population by ethnicity

Percentage and number of people of working age (aged 16 to 64 years) by ethnicity

Ethnicity % Number
All 100.0 36,273,707
Asian 8.1 2,936,933
Bangladeshi 0.8 275,116
Chinese 0.9 322,791
Indian 2.8 1,026,432
Pakistani 1.9 704,689
Asian other 1.7 607,905
Black 3.4 1,240,547
Black African 1.8 667,418
Black Caribbean 1.1 408,318
Black other 0.5 164,811
Mixed 1.8 638,291
Mixed White/Asian 0.5 170,927
Mixed White/Black African 0.2 81,364
Mixed White/Black Caribbean 0.6 225,465
Mixed other 0.4 160,535
White 85.6 31,054,503
White British 79.2 28,731,855
White Irish 0.9 337,577
White Gypsy/Traveller 0.1 35,869
White other 5.4 1,949,202
Other 1.1 403,433
Arab 0.4 156,948
Any other 0.7 246,485

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • according to the 2011 Census, the total population of England and Wales was 56.1 million, and 64.7% of people (36.3 million) were of ‘working age’ (aged 16 to 64 years)
  • 85.6% of working age people were White, 8.1% were Asian, 3.4% were Black, 1.8% had Mixed ethnicity, and 1.1% were from the Other ethnic group
  • among the specific ethnic groups, 79.2% of working age people identified as White British
  • after White British, the groups making up the largest percentage of the working age population were Other White (5.4%), Indian (2.8%), Pakistani (1.9%) and Black African (1.8%)
  • of the 18 ethnic groups listed in the 2011 Census, those making up the smallest percentage of the working age population were Gypsy or Irish Traveller (0.1%), Mixed White and Black African (0.2%), and the Other Mixed and Arab groups (both at 0.4%)

Ethnic groups by working age

Percentage and number of people within each ethnic group who are of working age (aged 16 to 64 years)

Ethnicity % Number
All 64.7 36,273,707
Asian 69.7 2,936,933
Bangladeshi 61.5 275,116
Chinese 82.1 322,791
Indian 72.6 1,026,432
Pakistani 62.7 704,689
Asian other 72.7 607,905
Black 66.5 1,240,547
Black African 67.4 667,418
Black Caribbean 68.6 408,318
Black other 58.8 164,811
Mixed 52.1 638,291
Mixed White/Asian 50.0 170,927
Mixed White/Black African 49.0 81,364
Mixed White/Black Caribbean 52.8 225,465
Mixed other 55.4 160,535
White 64.4 31,054,503
White British 63.7 28,731,855
White Irish 63.6 337,577
White Gypsy/Traveller 62.2 35,869
White other 78.4 1,949,202
Other 71.6 403,433
Arab 68.1 156,948
Any other 74.0 246,485

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • according to the 2011 Census, 64.7% of the population of England and Wales was of working age (aged 16 to 64 years)
  • 82.1% of people from the Chinese ethnic group were of working age, the highest out of all ethnic groups, followed by the Other White ethnic group (78.4%)
  • 49.0% of people from the Mixed White and Black African ethnic group were of working age, the lowest out of the 18 ethnic groups listed in the Census, followed by the Mixed White and Asian ethnic group (50.0%)
  • 63.7% of White British people were of working age, slightly lower than the national average

Working age population by ethnicity and country (England, Wales)

Percentage and number of people of working age (aged 16 to 64 years) by ethnicity and country

England Wales
Ethnicity % Number % Number
All 100.0 34,329,091 100.0 1,944,616
Asian 8.4 2,886,974 2.6 49,959
Bangladeshi 0.8 268,507 0.3 6,609
Chinese 0.9 311,828 0.6 10,963
Indian 3.0 1,013,550 0.7 12,882
Pakistani 2.0 696,841 0.4 7,848
Asian other 1.7 596,248 0.6 11,657
Black 3.6 1,227,458 0.7 13,089
Black African 1.9 658,725 0.4 8,693
Black Caribbean 1.2 405,493 0.1 2,825
Black other 0.5 163,240 0.1 1,571
Mixed 1.8 620,280 0.9 18,011
Mixed White/Asian 0.5 165,976 0.3 4,951
Mixed White/Black African 0.2 79,068 0.1 2,296
Mixed White/Black Caribbean 0.6 218,859 0.3 6,606
Mixed other 0.5 156,377 0.2 4,158
White 85.1 29,201,606 95.3 1,852,897
White British 78.5 26,932,465 92.5 1,799,390
White Irish 1.0 328,505 0.5 9,072
White Gypsy/Traveller 0.1 34,178 0.1 1,691
White other 5.6 1,906,458 2.2 42,744
Other 1.1 392,773 0.5 10,660
Arab 0.4 150,446 0.3 6,502
Any other 0.7 242,327 0.2 4,158

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • according to the 2011 Census, the working age population (people aged 16 to 64 years) was 34.3 million in England and 1.9 million in Wales
  • White British people made up 92.5% of the working age population in Wales, compared with 78.5% in England
  • the second largest broad ethnic group in both England and Wales was the Asian group, making up 8.4% and 2.6% of the working age populations respectively
  • people from Black backgrounds made up 3.6% of the working age population in England, compared with 0.7% of Wales.
  • looking at specific ethnic groups, people from Other White backgrounds made up 5.6% of the working age population in England, compared with 2.2% of Wales

Ethnic groups by working age and country (England, Wales)

Percentage and number of people within each ethnic group who are of working age (aged 16 to 64 years) by country

England Wales
Ethnicity % Number % Number
All 64.8 34,329,091 63.5 1,944,616
Asian 69.7 2,886,974 71.2 49,959
Bangladeshi 61.5 268,507 61.8 6,609
Chinese 82.2 311,828 80.4 10,963
Indian 72.6 1,013,550 74.7 12,882
Pakistani 62.6 696,841 64.2 7,848
Asian other 72.8 596,248 71.4 11,657
Black 66.5 1,227,458 71.6 13,089
Black African 67.4 658,725 73.1 8,693
Black Caribbean 68.6 405,493 74.2 2,825
Black other 58.7 163,240 60.9 1,571
Mixed 52.0 620,280 57.1 18,011
Mixed White/Asian 49.9 165,976 54.9 4,951
Mixed White/Black African 48.9 79,068 51.9 2,296
Mixed White/Black Caribbean 52.7 218,859 59.5 6,606
Mixed other 55.3 156,377 59.6 4,158
White 64.5 29,201,606 63.3 1,852,897
White British 63.7 26,932,465 63.0 1,799,390
White Irish 63.5 328,505 64.4 9,072
White Gypsy/Traveller 62.3 34,178 60.7 1,691
White other 78.5 1,906,458 76.4 42,744
Other 71.6 392,773 69.8 10,660
Arab 68.1 150,446 67.6 6,502
Any other 74.0 242,327 73.4 4,158

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • overall, according to the 2011 Census, 64.8% of people in England and 63.5% in Wales were of working age (aged 16 to 64 years)
  • in both England and Wales, the Chinese ethnic group had the highest percentage of people who were of working age out of all ethnic groups (at 82.2% and 80.4% respectively), while the Mixed White and Black African group had the lowest percentage (at 48.9% and 51.9% respectively)
  • 71.6% of people from Black backgrounds in Wales were of working age, compared with 66.5% in England
  • similarly, 57.1% of people with Mixed ethnicity in Wales were of working age, compared with 52.0% in England

Methodology

Methodology

All households in England and Wales received a Census questionnaire through the post from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), along with an information leaflet and a pre-paid envelope for return by post.

Households in Wales received both English language and Welsh language questionnaires and information leaflets.

Householders could complete their questionnaire either:

  • on paper, and return it by post
  • online – each paper questionnaire had a unique internet access code

Responses were uploaded every day onto the questionnaire tracking system throughout the duration of the Census. This meant that households could be contacted if their questionnaire had not been submitted.

Communal establishments like care homes, and special groups (such as travellers), had their questionnaires hand delivered, collected and uploaded by Census employees. Individuals within communal establishments could also complete their questionnaire online.

There were 56 questions in the 2011 Census questionnaire:

  • 14 questions were about the household and its accommodation
  • 42 questions were for each member of the household

Topics included work, health, national identity, passports, ethnicity, education, second homes, language, religion and marital status.

There was an extra question about the Welsh language for households in Wales.

A census is designed to cover the whole population, but some people or households are inevitably left out by accident. A good census design will recognise this and take account of the error with quality controls.

ONS developed a ‘coverage assessment and adjustment methodology’ which estimates and adjusts Census data for the number of people and households not counted or counted incorrectly.

All the 2011 Census population estimates have been subject to quality assurance using demographic analysis, survey data, qualitative information and administrative data. This ensures that the figures are plausible and that users of Census data can have confidence in the quality and accuracy of the information.

Relative confidence intervals for the population by ethnicity down to local authority level can be found in the ONS archive.

Suppression rules and disclosure control

The ONS uses a number of ways to protect the confidentiality of individuals and households, including:

  • record swapping, where small numbers of records are swapped between geographical areas
  • restricting the amount of detail shown in published data, particularly at low level geographies like local authorities

Rounding

Percentages are rounded to 1 decimal place.

Quality and methodology information

Further technical information

Census user guide.

2011 UK Censuses.

Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Office for National Statistics

Publication frequency

Purpose of data source

The government uses Census data to develop policies, plan and run public services, and allocate funding. The Census also helps illustrate differences between various groups of the population.

Download the data

Working age population of England and Wales - Spreadsheet (csv) 26 KB

This file contains: Measure, Ethnicity, Geography, Age Group, Sex, Value, Count, Year, Source