Economic inactivity

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • 21% of working age people (16 to 64 year olds) in England, Scotland and Wales were economically inactive in 2019, which means they were out of work and not looking for a job
  • 20% of White people were economically inactive in 2019, compared with 29% of people from all other ethnic groups combined
  • the combined Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic group had the highest rate of economic inactivity (39%)
  • the White Other ethnic group had the lowest rate of economic inactivity (14%)
  • in every region, White people had a lower rate of economic inactivity than the combined rate for all other ethnic groups
  • in every ethnic group, women were more likely than men to be economically inactive
  • the biggest gap between men and women was in the combined Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic group, where 57% of women and 21% of men were economically inactive

2. Things you need to know

What the data measures

The data measures the percentage of working age people (16 to 64 year olds) who were ‘economically inactive’.

A person of working age is economically inactive if they are:

  • out of work
  • not actively looking for work
  • not waiting to start a job
  • not in full-time education
  • caring for their family
  • retired

Percentages are rounded to whole numbers.

Not included in the data

The data does not include estimates based on fewer than:

  • 30 survey respondents for data covering all ethnic groups together
  • 100 survey respondents for data by ethnicity

This is to protect people’s confidentiality and because the numbers involved are too small to make reliable generalisations.

The ethnic groups used in the data

The data uses the ethnic categories from the 2011 Census.

Data is aggregated for the Black, Mixed and Other ethnic groups, which means estimates are shown for these groups as a whole.

Data is shown separately for White British people and all other White people (‘White Other’ ethnic group). Separate figures are also shown for 3 different Asian ethnic groups (Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi combined, and Asian Other).

Data by ethnicity and area is shown for 2 ethnic groups (White, and Other than White).

People whose ethnicity is not known are included in the figures for ‘All’.

Methodology

Read the detailed methodology document for this data.

The Annual Population Survey updated its ethnicity questions in 2011. As a result, estimates from before and after 2011 may not be consistent, and data for individual ethnic groups in 2011 is not available.

The figures on this page are based on survey data. Find out more about:

In the data file

See Download the data for:

  • estimates by region, age group and sex over time for detailed ethnic groups
  • estimates by local authority for White and Other than White groups
  • confidence intervals for each ethnic group – read about how we use confidence intervals
  • sample sizes
  • estimates rounded to 1 decimal place

3. By ethnicity

Percentage and number of 16 to 64 year olds who were economically inactive, by ethnicity
Ethnicity % Number of people economically inactive
All 21 8,468,400
Asian 31 999,100
Indian 21 253,000
Pakistani, Bangladeshi 39 492,900
Asian Other 31 253,200
Black 25 365,300
Mixed 26 136,900
White 20 6,699,800
White British 20 6,255,300
White Other 14 444,500
Other 32 258,600

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV)

Summary of Economic inactivity By ethnicity Summary

The data shows that:

  • 21% of working age people in England, Scotland and Wales were economically inactive in 2019
  • 39% of people from the combined Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic group were economically inactive, the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups
  • 14% of people from the White Other ethnic group were economically inactive, the lowest percentage out of all ethnic groups

4. By ethnicity (White and Other than White)

Percentage and number of 16 to 64 year olds who were economically inactive, by ethnicity (White and Other than White)
Ethnicity % Number of people economically inactive
All 21 8,468,400
White 20 6,699,800
Other than White 29 1,759,900

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity (White and Other than White)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity (White and Other than White)’ (CSV)

Summary of Economic inactivity By ethnicity (White and Other than White) Summary

The data shows that:

  • White people were less likely to be economically inactive in 2019 (20%) than people from all other ethnic groups combined (29%)

5. By ethnicity over time

Percentage of 16 to 64 year olds who were economically inactive, by ethnicity over time
Ethnicity 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
% % % % % % % % % % % % % % % %
All 24 24 23 23 23 23 24 24 23 23 23 22 22 22 22 21
Asian 37 37 36 36 35 34 34 not collected 33 33 32 32 32 31 30 31
Indian 27 26 25 26 26 25 24 not collected 23 24 24 24 23 22 21 21
Pakistani, Bangladeshi 49 49 48 48 46 44 44 not collected 42 41 40 40 39 39 38 39
Asian Other 36 36 34 33 31 32 36 not collected 34 36 33 32 34 32 32 31
Black 31 30 28 28 28 29 28 not collected 27 26 27 26 25 26 27 25
Mixed 29 30 27 28 31 30 28 not collected 29 26 28 28 28 27 28 26
White 23 22 22 22 22 22 23 not collected 22 22 21 21 21 20 20 20
White British 22 22 22 22 22 22 23 not collected 22 22 22 21 21 21 21 20
White Other 25 23 21 21 21 21 21 not collected 20 19 19 17 17 16 15 14
Other 38 36 36 36 35 36 35 not collected 35 35 37 35 34 33 34 32

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity over time’ (CSV)

Summary of Economic inactivity By ethnicity over time Summary

The data shows that:

  • in most ethnic groups, the rate of economic inactivity was lower in 2019 than in 2004
  • although the rate appears to be lower in the Asian Other and Mixed ethnic groups, the decrease was too small to be reliable
  • the biggest decreases were in the combined Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic group, (down from 49% to 39%) and the White Other ethnic group (down from 25% to 14%)
  • in every year from 2004 to 2019, the combined Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic group had the highest rate of economic inactivity out of all ethnic groups

6. By ethnicity and gender

Percentage and number of 16 to 64 year olds who were economically inactive, by ethnicity and gender
All Men Women
Ethnicity All % All Number of people economically inactive Men % Men Number of people economically inactive Women % Women Number of people economically inactive
All 21 8,468,400 17 3,323,500 26 5,144,900
Asian 31 999,100 19 305,900 42 693,200
Indian 21 253,000 15 91,000 28 162,000
Pakistani, Bangladeshi 39 492,900 21 135,400 57 357,600
Asian Other 31 253,200 22 79,500 39 173,700
Black 25 365,300 22 147,100 28 218,200
Mixed 26 136,900 23 60,300 28 76,600
White 20 6,699,800 16 2,716,200 23 3,983,600
White British 20 6,255,300 17 2,584,600 24 3,670,700
White Other 14 444,500 9 131,600 19 312,900
Other 32 258,600 23 91,200 41 167,400

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and gender’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and gender’ (CSV)

Summary of Economic inactivity By ethnicity and gender Summary

The data shows that:

  • 26% of women and 17% of men were economically inactive in 2019
  • in every ethnic group, women were more likely to be economically inactive than men
  • the gap between men and women was biggest in the combined Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic group, where 57% of women and 21% of men were economically inactive
  • the highest rate of economic inactivity among women was in the combined Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic group (57%)
  • the highest rate among men was in the Mixed and Other ethnic groups (23%)
  • the lowest rates were in the White Other ethnic group for both men (9%) and women (19%)

7. By ethnicity and age

Percentage and number of 16 to 64 year olds who were economically inactive, by ethnicity and age
All 16-24 25-49 50-64
Ethnicity All % All Number of people economically inactive 16-24 % 16-24 Number of people economically inactive 25-49 % 25-49 Number of people economically inactive 50-64 % 50-64 Number of people economically inactive
All 21 8,468,400 39 2,607,100 13 2,710,400 26 3,150,900
Asian 31 999,100 58 374,000 22 452,300 30 172,900
Indian 21 253,000 56 95,200 13 101,700 23 56,000
Pakistani, Bangladeshi 39 492,900 56 176,800 31 240,900 42 75,200
Asian Other 31 253,200 64 101,900 22 109,600 28 41,600
Black 25 365,300 53 154,100 17 136,500 21 74,700
Mixed 26 136,900 48 79,300 13 36,800 30 20,700
White 20 6,699,800 35 1,905,600 11 1,959,300 25 2,834,900
White British 20 6,255,300 35 1,772,700 12 1,739,900 26 2,742,700
White Other 14 444,500 35 132,900 10 219,400 19 92,200
Other 32 258,600 63 92,400 24 121,300 30 44,900

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and age’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and age’ (CSV)

Summary of Economic inactivity By ethnicity and age Summary

The data shows that:

  • 39% of all 16 to 24 year olds were economically inactive in 2019, compared with 13% of 25 to 49 year olds, and 26% of 50 to 64 year olds
  • in every ethnic group, 16 to 24 year olds had the highest rate of economic inactivity out of the 3 age groups
  • among 16 to 24 year olds, the highest rate of economic inactivity was in the Asian Other ethnic group (64%), and the lowest was in the White British and White Other ethnic groups (35%)
  • among 25 to 49 year olds, the highest rate of economic inactivity was in the combined Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic group (31%), and the lowest was in the White Other ethnic group (10%)
  • among 50 to 64 year olds, the highest rate of economic inactivity was in the combined Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic group (42%), and the lowest was in the White Other ethnic group (19%)

8. By ethnicity over time (16 to 24 year olds only)

Percentage of 16 to 24 year olds who were economically inactive, by ethnicity over time
Ethnicity 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
% % % % % % % % % % % % % % % %
All 32 32 33 33 34 35 38 37 37 38 39 37 38 38 39 39
Asian 53 54 51 54 52 55 58 not collected 56 57 60 57 60 58 56 58
Indian 46 49 44 45 48 51 51 not collected 46 54 58 54 59 49 52 56
Pakistani, Bangladeshi 56 55 52 56 52 54 56 not collected 56 52 55 53 56 58 53 56
Asian Other 57 60 60 62 59 65 70 not collected 68 69 69 67 68 65 65 64
Black 47 50 48 49 53 52 55 not collected 53 53 54 56 50 56 57 53
Mixed 39 41 38 39 45 47 45 not collected 42 38 43 46 48 45 46 48
White 29 29 30 31 31 32 34 not collected 34 35 35 34 35 35 35 35
White British 29 29 30 31 31 32 34 not collected 34 34 35 34 35 34 35 35
White Other 36 30 27 31 30 35 37 not collected 44 42 41 36 36 40 40 35
Other 55 53 53 55 50 60 61 not collected 58 63 65 59 61 63 64 63

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity over time (16 to 24 year olds only)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity over time (16 to 24 year olds only)’ (CSV)

Summary of Economic inactivity By ethnicity over time (16 to 24 year olds only) Summary

16 to 24 year olds were more likely to be economically inactive than older people. This is partly because people in this age group were more likely to be students.

The data shows that:

  • between 2004 and 2019, the rate of economic inactivity for all 16 to 24 year olds went up from 32% to 39%

9. By ethnicity and area

Percentage of 16 to 64 year olds who were economically inactive, by ethnicity and area
All White Other than White
Region All % All Number of people economically inactive White % White Number of people economically inactive Other than White % Other than White Number of people economically inactive
All 21 8,468,400 20 6,699,800 29 1,759,900
East Midlands 20 588,900 19 480,200 28 108,000
East of England 19 731,500 19 635,900 24 94,200
London 22 1,329,800 18 659,300 28 667,900
North East 25 409,900 24 375,300 38 34,500
North West 22 1,001,000 21 816,900 34 183,400
Scotland 23 772,800 22 701,400 36 70,400
South East 18 1,003,000 18 869,900 22 132,900
South West 18 606,100 18 563,600 22 41,900
Wales 24 450,800 23 410,500 34 40,200
West Midlands 22 804,500 20 559,000 32 244,600
Yorkshire and The Humber 23 770,100 21 627,800 36 141,800

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and area’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and area’ (CSV)

Summary of Economic inactivity By ethnicity and area Summary

The data shows that:

  • White people had a lower rate of economic inactivity than people from all other ethnic groups combined in every region except the South West, where the difference between the 2 groups was too small to be reliable
  • the gap was biggest in Scotland, where 22% of White people and 36% of people from all other ethnic groups combined were economically inactive
  • people from the White Other ethnic group in the East of England had the lowest rate of economic inactivity out of all ethnic groups and regions (12%)
  • the highest rate was among people from the Other ethnic group in the North East (52%)

10. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Office for National Statistics

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

The Annual Population Survey (APS) is the largest household survey in the UK and covers topics, including:

  • personal characteristics
  • labour market status
  • work characteristics
  • education
  • health

The purpose of the APS is to provide information on social and socio-economic variables at local levels, such as labour market estimates.

The published statistics also allow the government to monitor estimates between Censuses.

11. Download the data

Economic inactivity by local authority - Spreadsheet (csv) 2 MB

This file contains the following: Measure, Measure_type, Ethnicity, Ethnicity_type, Time, Time_type, Local_authority, Age, Value, Confidence_interval, Numerator, Denominator, Sample_size

Economic Inactivity by Region - Spreadsheet (csv) 3 MB

This file contains the following: Measure, Measure_type, Ethnicity, Ethnicity_type, Time, Time_type, Region, Age, Age_type, Sex, Value, Confidence_interval, Numerator, Denominator, Sample_size