The main facts and figures show that:
since 2004, employment has gone up across all ethnic groups; 2016 saw the highest rate of employment, with 74% of the overall population employed (around 29.5 million people)
in 2016, a larger percentage of White British and White ethnic minority groups were employed than the other ethnic groups combined
in the same year, 64% of people from other ethnic groups were employed (compared to 74% of people from White groups) – an increase of 1 percentage point since 2015, and the highest percentage since 2004
the ‘employment rate gap’ – the difference between the employment rate for the whole population and that for ethnic minority groups (excluding White ethnic minorities) – has decreased over time, from 15 percentage points in 2004 to 10 percentage points in 2016
employment rates are lower for ethnic minority groups (excluding White ethnic minorities) than the overall population across the country, with a larger gap in the North than in the South (13.2 percentage points compared to 9.0 percentage points)
Things you need to know
The Annual Population Survey (APS) is a ‘sample survey’. It collects information from a random sample of the population to make generalisations (reach 'findings') about the total population.
The commentary for this data includes only reliable, or ‘statistically significant’, findings. Findings are statistically significant when we can be confident that they can be repeated, and are reflective of the total population rather than just the survey sample.
Specifically, the statistical tests used mean we can be confident that if we carried out the same survey on different random samples of the population, 19 times out of 20 we would get similar findings.
As with all surveys, the estimates from the APS are subject to a degree of uncertainty as they are based on a sample of the population. The degree of uncertainty is greater when the number of respondents is small, so it will be highest for ethnic minority groups.
Smaller numbers of survey respondents from ethnic minority backgrounds mean that estimates for ethnic minorities (other than White ethnic minorities) are more unreliable than estimates for White people (which includes White British and White ethnic minorities).
Results taken from a sample which has a low number of responses are more likely to be affected by statistical variation, so observed changes might not reflect real differences. As such, caution is needed when interpreting short-term trends in the data, especially for sub groups (for example, a specific ethnic group, age group and gender).
When looking at data for ‘All’ groups, any values based on fewer than 30 responses have been withheld, and when further breaking down the data by ethnicity, any values based on fewer than 100 responses have been withheld. This is to protect confidentiality or because the numbers involved are too small to draw any reliable conclusions.
Data is sourced from the Annual Population Survey to get lower level details such as local authority area. Higher-level figures may differ slightly from reports published by the Department for Work and Pensions and the Office for National Statistics that also use the Labour Force Survey.
Changes were made to the Labour Force Survey (and therefore the Annual Population Survey) ethnicity questions in January to March 2011, to bring them more in line with Census data collection on these topics. In April to June 2011 further changes were made to the ethnicity questions to bring them in line with Scottish Census data collection. As a result, there may be some inconsistencies with estimates from earlier than 2011.
What the data measures
This data measures the rate of employment in England, Wales and Scotland across different ethnic groups.
This ‘employment rate’ is calculated as the number of people in employment as a percentage of the total working age population. ‘Working age’ includes everyone aged 16 to 64 years.
A person of working age is counted as employed if they either:
- are in paid work, as an employee or self-employed
- have a job that they are temporarily away from, for example on holiday
- are on a government-supported training or employment programme
- are doing unpaid family work, for example working in a family business
The figures come from the Annual Population Survey, which is a general household survey covering the UK. It uses data from the Labour Force Survey as well as other local data.
The data also measures the ‘employment rate gap’, which is the difference between the employment rate for the whole population and that for ethnic minorities (other than White ethnic minorities).
The ethnic categories used in this data
Where possible, data is broken down into 9 groups:
- White British
- White Other
- Other Asian
- Other ethnic groups
However, in cases where the number of people surveyed (the ‘sample size’) was too small to draw any firm conclusions about specific ethnic categories, the data is broken down into:
- White – White ethnic groups (including White British and White ethnic minorities)
- Other – all other ethnic minorities
People whose ethnicity is 'Unknown' (because their ethnicity was not recorded or they chose not to state their ethnicity) are counted in measurements for ‘All’ groups, such as all people in employment. However they are not counted where data is broken down by White and Other.
Employment by ethnicity
Percentage and number of employed people by ethnicity
This data shows that:
in 2016, the group with the highest employment rate was White Other, at 80%, and the group with the lowest was Pakistani/Bangladeshi, at 54%; this was a gap of 26 percentage points
in 2016, every ethnic minority (other than White ethnic minorities) had lower rates of employment than the White British group (75%); the Indian ethnic group was the closest, at 73%, followed by the Black ethnic group, at 67%
Employment by ethnicity (White and Other)
Percentage and number of people from the White and Other ethnic groups who are employed
This data shows that:
in 2016, the rate of employment was 76% for the White group and 64% for people from other ethnic groups
the ‘employment rate gap’ – the difference between the employment rate for the whole working age population and that for ethnic minorities (excluding White ethnic minorities) – was 10 percentage points in 2016
Employment by ethnicity over time
Percentage of employed people by ethnicity over time
This data shows that:
from 2004 to 2016, the employment rates for all ethnic groups were higher than in 2004; however for the Mixed, Other Asian and Other ethnic groups, sample sizes are small, so any generalisations based on these results are unreliable
from 2004 to 2016, the Pakistani/Bangladeshi ethnic group had the biggest rise in the rate of employment, from 44% to 54%, and the White British group had the smallest rise, from 74% to 75%
the rate of employment was generally higher in 2016 than in 2015 for most ethnic groups; however sample sizes for ethnic minorities are small, so any generalisations based on these results are unreliable
Employment by ethnicity and gender
Percentage and number of employed people by ethnicity and gender
|Ethnicity||%||Employed people||%||Employed people|
|Asian - Indian||64||350,000||81||478,000|
|Asian - Other||55||243,000||72||270,000|
|Asian - Pakistani/Bangladeshi||35||197,000||72||440,000|
|White - British||71||11,086,000||79||12,311,000|
|White - Other||73||1,126,000||88||1,267,000|
This data shows that:
in 2016, the rate of employment for men was higher than for women in all ethnic groups
the gender employment rate gap (the difference in employment rates for men compared with women) was smallest for the Mixed ethnic group; 67% of men were employed compared with 62% of women, a gap of 5 percentage points
the gender employment rate gap was largest for the Pakistani/Bangladeshi ethnic group; more than twice as many men (72%) were employed than women (35%), a gap of 37 percentage points
the difference between rates of employment for Pakistani/Bangladeshi women (35%) and White British women (71%) was 36 percentage points
Indian women had the highest employment rate of all ethnic minorities (other than White minorities), at 64%
the Mixed ethnic group had the lowest employment rate for men, at 67%
the White Other group had the highest employment rate for men, at 88%, followed by Indian men at 81% and White British men at 79%
Employment by ethnicity and age
Percentage and number of employed people by ethnicity and age
|Ethnicity||%||Employed people||%||Employed people||%||Employed people|
This data shows that:
the ‘employment rate gap’ is the difference between the employment rate for whole population and the employment rate for ethnic minorities (other than White ethnic minorities); in 2016, it was largest in the 16 to 24 age group, where the rate was 34% for ethnic minorities compared with 54% overall, a difference of 20 percentage points
for people aged 16 to 24 years, the White British group had the highest rate of employment, at 58%, while the Other Asian group had the lowest rate, at 27% – a difference of 31 percentage points
for people aged 25 to 49 years, the White Other and White British groups had the highest rate of employment, at 85%, while the Pakistani/Bangladeshi group had the lowest rate, at 63% – a difference of 22 percentage points
for people aged 50 to 64 years, the White Other group had the highest rate of employment, at 75%, and the Pakistani/Bangladeshi group had the lowest rate, at 49%
Employed 16 to 24 year olds by ethnicity over time
Percentage of 16 to 24 year olds in employment by ethnicity over time
The 16 to 24 year old age group was less likely to be employed than people in the older age groups. This is partly because people in this age group are more likely to be in full-time education. See 'Economic inactivity due to full-time education' for more information.
This data shows that:
the rate of employment in 2016 was lower than that in 2004 for all ethnic groups in this age group apart from White Other and Black 16 to 24 year olds
the Mixed ethnic group saw the largest fall in the rate of employment for 16 to 24 year olds between 2004 and 2016; the rate fell from 49% to 39%, a difference of 10 percentage points
the Indian ethnic group saw the next largest fall in the rate of employment, from 44% in 2004 to 35% in 2016, followed by the Other Asian ethnic group, from 34% in 2004 to 27% in 2016
although the chart shows an overall decrease in employment rate for Black 16 to 24 year olds over the period studied, small sample sizes make generalisations based on this result unreliable – this is also the case for results for all ethnic groups between 2015 and 2016
Employment by ethnicity and area
Percentage of employed people by ethnicity and area
|Ethnicity||East Midlands||East of England||London||North East||North West||Scotland||South East||South West||Wales||West Midlands||Yorkshire and The Humber|
|Indian||70||73||76||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||64||69||78||83||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||70||66|
|Pakistani/Bangladeshi||53||54||54||55||55||61||60||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||50||54|
|Asian other||60||71||66||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||57||49||66||68||52||50||60|
|Black||68||72||69||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||59||61||68||62||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||60||75|
|Mixed||60||74||63||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||68||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||72||60||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||56||61|
|Other||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||68||63||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||55||56||66||69||54||57||50|
This data shows that:
in all regions in 2016, the rate of employment for the White group was higher than for people from all other ethnic groups
the lowest rates of employment for each ethnic group were generally seen in the North, including the North East (71% for White British and 74% for White Other) and the North West (59% for Black and 64% for Indian)
the West Midlands also saw low rates of employment for each ethnic group (56% for the Mixed ethnic group and 50% for the Pakistani/Bangladeshi group)
the highest employment rates for each ethnic group were generally seen in the South, including the East of England (84% for White Other, 74% for the Mixed ethnic group and 71% for Other Asian), the South East (78% for White British) and the South West (83% for Indian and 69% for Other)
the Pakistani/Bangladeshi group had a relatively high rate of employment in Scotland, at 61%, and the Black group a relatively high rate of employment in Yorkshire and the Humber, at 75%; this was in contrast with the percentages of these groups employed in other regions
The Annual Population Survey is a continuous household survey. Most people are interviewed in person first, and later by telephone. The sample is formed partly from waves 1 and 5 of the Labour Force Survey (in which selected addresses are contacted every 3 months) and partly from boost cases that are in the sample for 4 waves, spread one year apart.
Participants are randomly selected from the Royal Mail Postcode address File (PAF). The NHS communal accommodation list is also used and (in the case of remote parts of Scotland) telephone directories. All eligible individuals found at the selected address may be interviewed. Individuals are included in the dataset for this analysis if they respond themselves or if a family member responds on their behalf. The complex survey design has been taken into account when calculating confidence intervals.
The achieved sample of approximately 275,000 undergoes weighting which is structured at local authority level and uses age and sex dimensions.
Weighting is used to adjust the results of a survey to make them representative of the population and improve their accuracy.
For example, a survey which contains 25% females and 75% males will not accurately reflect the views of the general population, which we know is around 50% male and 50% female.
Statisticians rebalance or ‘weight’ the survey results to more accurately represent the general population. This helps to make them more reliable.
Survey weights are usually applied to make sure the survey sample has broadly the same gender, age, ethnic and geographic make up as the general population.
The Office for National Statistics population estimates and projections are used as the basis for this weighting process.
Suppression rules and disclosure control
In data covering all ethnic groups together, estimates based on sample sizes of less than 30 have been suppressed. For data broken down by ethnic groups, estimates based on sample sizes under 100 have been suppressed.
‘Suppression’ means these figures have not been included in the data, to protect confidentiality and because the numbers involved are too small to draw any reliable conclusions.Quality and methodology information
Type of data
Type of statistic
Department for Work and Pensions
Purpose of data source
Survey data, collected to allow analysis of labour market and related topics at a lower level than is possible in the Labour Force Survey.
Download the data
This file contains employment rates by ethnicity, time, gender, local authority area and age, with numerator, denominator, sample size and confidence intervalsemployment-by-region.csv
Year, ethnic group, region, age group, gender, numerator, denominator, value, confidence interval, sample size