Unemployment

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • 4% of White people were unemployed in 2018, compared with 7% of people from all other ethnic groups combined
  • Black people had the highest unemployment rate out of all the ethnic groups (9%)
  • the Other White ethnic group had the lowest unemployment rate out of all the ethnic groups (3%)
  • in every region in England, Wales and Scotland, unemployment rates were lower for White people than for all other ethnic groups combined, with the biggest difference in Scotland
Things you need to know

In 2018, there were 33 million people in England, Scotland and Wales who were working or unemployed (the economically active population), 4% of whom were unemployed.

The data for this analysis comes from the Annual Population Survey (APS). The APS surveys a random sample of the population to make generalisations about the whole population.

The commentary for this data includes only reliable findings. Findings are reliable ('statistically significant’) when we can be confident they are reflective of the total population. This means we would get similar findings 19 times out of 20 if we carried out the same survey on different random samples of the population.

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.

Results taken from a low number of responses are more likely to change from year to year. What appear to be changes over time might not reflect real differences. Please use caution when interpreting short-term trends in the data, especially for small groups.

Values based on fewer than 30 responses have been withheld from results for 'All' groups. Values based on fewer than 100 responses have been withheld from results for specific ethnic groups. This is both:

  • to protect respondents’ confidentiality
  • because the numbers involved are too small to draw any reliable conclusions

Higher-level figures may differ from those published by the Department for Work and Pensions and the Office for National Statistics that use the Labour Force Survey (LFS).

The APS updated its ethnicity questions in 2011 so they were consistent with the censuses in England, Wales and Scotland. As a result, estimates from before and after 2011 may be inconsistent, and data for individual ethnic groups in 2011 is not available.

Download the data for both the data shown and additional estimates for:

  • the 2 broad ethnic groups (White and Other than White) at the lower local authority level
  • the Other than White ethnic group broken down by age, gender and over time
  • data by ethnicity and age over time for all age groups
What the data measures

This data measures the unemployment rate for different ethnic groups in England, Wales and Scotland. Data is also broken down by gender, age group, area and disability.

The unemployment rate is the number of people who are unemployed as a percentage of the economically active population. The economically active population includes all people aged 16 and over who are either in employment or unemployed.

Someone is classed as unemployed if they:

  • they are out of work
  • they are available to start work in the next 2 weeks
  • they have either been looking for work in the past 4 weeks or have found a job and are waiting to start it

This is the International Labour Organisation’s definition of ‘unemployment’. It is often used in published statistics in the UK. It gives a more accurate picture than alternatives as it includes people regardless of whether or not they are claiming benefits.

The ethnic categories used in this data

Data is shown for the following ethnic groups:

Asian:

  • Indian
  • Pakistani and Bangladeshi
  • Asian Other (including Chinese)

Black

Mixed

White:

  • White British
  • White Other

Other

For some analyses, the number of people surveyed was too small to draw any firm conclusions about specific ethnic categories, so the data is broken down into the following 2 categories:

  • White – White ethnic groups including White British and White ethnic minorities
  • Other than White– all other ethnic groups combined

People whose ethnicity is unknown are included in the figures for ‘All’.

2. By ethnicity

Percentage and number of the economically active population who were unemployed, by ethnicity
Ethnicity % Number of people unemployed
All 4 1,360,800
Asian 6 138,800
Indian 4 39,200
Pakistani, Bangladeshi 8 66,000
Asian Other 6 33,500
Black 9 91,900
Mixed 7 28,000
White 4 1,060,900
White British 4 971,400
White Other 3 89,500
Other 8 40,100

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

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2018, 4% of the economically active population (all people aged 16 and over who were employed or unemployed) were unemployed, which is just under 1.4 million people
  • 9% of Black people were unemployed, the highest unemployment rate across all ethnic groups
  • 3% of the Other White ethnic group were unemployed, the lowest unemployment rate across all ethnic groups

3. By ethnicity (White and Other than White)

Percentage and number of the economically active population who were unemployed, by ethnicity (White and Other than White)
Ethnicity % Number of people unemployed
All 4 1,360,800
White 4 1,060,900
Other than White 7 298,800

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

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2018, 4% of White people were unemployed, compared with 7% of people from all other ethnic groups combined (shown here as ‘Other than White’)

4. By ethnicity over time

Percentage of the economically active population who were unemployed, by ethnicity over time
Ethnicity 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
% % % % % % % % % % % % % % %
All 5 5 5 5 6 8 8 8 8 8 6 5 5 4 4
Asian 9 9 10 10 9 11 11 not collected 12 12 9 8 7 7 6
Indian 7 7 8 7 7 9 8 not collected 10 9 6 7 5 6 4
Pakistani, Bangladeshi 13 13 15 15 15 17 16 not collected 17 18 14 12 11 10 8
Asian Other 9 8 8 9 7 9 9 not collected 10 9 8 7 6 6 6
Black 13 14 13 13 14 18 16 not collected 17 17 15 12 10 9 9
Mixed 12 12 11 12 13 14 15 not collected 16 16 13 11 11 7 7
White 4 4 5 5 5 7 7 not collected 7 7 6 5 4 4 4
White British 4 4 5 5 5 7 7 not collected 7 7 6 5 4 4 4
White Other 6 6 5 5 5 7 6 not collected 6 6 6 5 4 4 3
Other 11 11 13 10 11 12 13 not collected 14 13 10 9 7 8 8

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

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in every ethnic group, the unemployment rate was lower in 2018 than it was in 2004
  • the unemployment rates for the Mixed ethnic group and the combined Pakistani and Bangladeshi group were more than 5 percentage points lower in 2018 than in 2004

5. By ethnicity and gender

Percentage and number of the economically active population who were unemployed, by ethnicity and gender
All Men Women
Ethnicity % Number of people unemployed % Number of people unemployed % Number of people unemployed
All 4 1,360,800 4 727,800 4 633,000
Asian 6 138,800 5 65,700 8 73,100
Indian 4 39,200 4 19,100 5 20,100
Pakistani, Bangladeshi 8 66,000 6 31,100 13 34,900
Asian Other 6 33,500 6 15,500 7 18,100
Black 9 91,900 9 46,000 9 45,900
Mixed 7 28,000 8 15,200 7 12,800
White 4 1,060,900 4 579,000 4 481,900
White British 4 971,400 4 537,700 4 433,700
White Other 3 89,500 3 41,300 4 48,200
Other 8 40,100 7 21,400 8 18,700

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

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2018, the unemployment rate for the Asian and the combined Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic groups was higher for women (8% and 13%) than men (5% and 6%)
  • White women (4%) were less likely to be unemployed than women from all other ethnic groups combined (8%) – download the data to see these figures
  • White men (4%) were less likely to be unemployed than men from all other ethnic groups combined (6%) – download the data to see these figures

6. By ethnicity and age (White and Other than White)

Percentage and number of the economically active population who were unemployed, by ethnicity and age (White and Other than White)
All White Other than White
Age % Number of people unemployed % Number of people unemployed % Number of people unemployed
All 4 1,360,800 4 1,060,900 7 298,800
16-24 12 486,100 11 384,300 18 101,700
25-49 3 587,600 3 432,600 6 154,300
50-64 3 268,100 3 228,100 5 39,900
65+ 2 18,900 1 15,900 5 3,000

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

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in every age group, White people had a lower unemployment rate than people from all other ethnic groups combined
  • 16 to 24 year olds were more likely to be unemployed than any other age group, both for the White group and for all other ethnic groups combined
  • among 16 to 24 year olds, 11% of White people were unemployed, compared with 18% of people from all other ethnic groups – the largest gap of any age group, at 7 percentage points
  • among 25 to 49 year olds, people from the White ethnic group had a lower unemployment rate (3%) than people from all other ethnic groups combined (6%)
  • among 50 to 64 year olds, people from the White ethnic group had a lower unemployment rate (3%) than those from all other ethnic groups combined (5%)
  • among people over 65, those from the White ethnic group had a lower unemployment rate (1%) than those from all other ethnic groups combined (5%)

7. By ethnicity over time (16 to 24 year olds only, White and Other than White)

Percentage and number of economically active 16 to 24 year olds who were unemployed, by ethnicity over time (White and Other than White)
All White Other than White
Time % Number of people unemployed % Number of people unemployed % Number of people unemployed
2004 12 553,800 11 449,000 24 103,800
2005 13 591,300 12 489,800 23 100,800
2006 14 637,900 13 527,700 23 109,400
2007 14 638,900 13 529,000 24 109,300
2008 15 700,200 14 572,400 26 127,400
2009 19 862,000 18 725,100 29 135,500
2010 20 862,400 18 721,100 31 140,800
2011 21 960,200 not collected not collected not collected not collected
2012 21 946,200 20 778,400 33 167,500
2013 20 894,200 18 711,500 35 182,300
2014 17 742,100 16 605,000 27 135,100
2015 14 629,600 13 503,700 24 126,000
2016 13 569,600 12 450,500 23 119,100
2017 12 515,200 11 410,100 20 104,400
2018 12 486,100 11 384,300 18 101,700

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

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in every year between 2004 and 2018, White 16 to 24 year olds had a lower unemployment rate than those from all other ethnic groups combined
  • 2013 saw the biggest difference in the rate between White 16 to 24 year olds and those from all other ethnic groups, at 17 percentage points – by 2018, the gap had reduced to 7 percentage points
  • the highest unemployment rate for White 16 to 24 year olds in 20% (in 2012) – by 2018, this had fallen to 11%
  • the highest unemployment rate for 16 to 24 year olds from all other ethnic groups combined was 35% (in 2013) – by 2018, this had fallen to 18%

8. By ethnicity and area (White and Other than White)

Percentage and number of the economically active population who were unemployed, by ethnicity and area (White and Other than White)
All White Other than White
Region % Number of people unemployed % Number of people unemployed % Number of people unemployed
All 12 486,100 11 384,300 18 101,700
East Midlands 12 39,700 12 34,900 13 4,800
East of England 11 41,600 11 37,200 11 4,400
London 15 71,400 11 31,100 20 40,300
North East 13 23,200 13 21,500 20 1,500
North West 12 54,500 11 43,600 19 10,900
Scotland 10 35,100 9 32,400 19 2,700
South East 11 62,100 10 52,000 18 10,100
South West 9 33,800 9 31,400 14 2,400
Wales 14 30,100 14 28,500 14 1,600
West Midlands 15 55,300 13 39,500 22 15,900
Yorkshire and The Humber 10 39,400 10 32,200 16 7,200

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

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in every region, the unemployment rate for White people was lower than for people from all other ethnic groups combined
  • Scotland had the largest unemployment rate gap between the White ethnic group (4%) and all other ethnic groups combined (11%), at 7 percentage points

9. By ethnicity, disability and gender

Percentage of the economically active population who were unemployed, by ethnicity, disability and gender
All Men Women
Ethnicity All (%) Disabled (%) Non-disabled (%) All (%) Disabled (%) Non-disabled (%) All (%) Disabled (%) Non-disabled (%)
All 4 8 4 4 10 4 4 7 4
Asian 6 11 5 5 9 4 8 13 7
Indian 4 9 4 4 11 3 5 8 5
Pakistani, Bangladeshi 8 13 7 6 8 6 13 22 11
Asian Other 6 10 6 6 10 5 7 11 6
Black 9 16 8 9 19 8 9 15 8
Mixed 7 16 6 8 18 6 7 14 6
White 4 8 3 4 9 3 4 6 3
White British 4 8 3 4 10 3 4 6 3
White Other 3 6 3 3 4 3 4 8 3
Other 8 15 7 7 20 5 8 8 8

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

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2018, the total unemployment rate was 8% for disabled people and 4% for non-disabled people
  • disabled people had a higher unemployment rate than non-disabled people in every ethnic group except the Other Asian ethnic group, where the difference was not meaningful
  • among disabled people, the highest unemployment rate was in the Black and Mixed ethnic groups (both at 16%) and the lowest was in the Other White ethnic group (at 6%)
  • the biggest gap between disabled men and women was in the combined Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic group, where 22% of disabled women and 8% of disabled men were unemployed

10. Methodology

The Annual Population Survey is a continuous household survey. Most people are interviewed in person first, and later by telephone.

The sample is formed from:

  • waves 1 and 5 of the Labour Force Survey (in which selected addresses are contacted every 3 months)
  • 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. 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.

People 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.

Weighting:

The sample of approximately 275,000 people undergoes weighting at local authority level, using age and sex dimensions.

Weighting adjusts the results of a survey to make them representative of the population and make them more reliable.

For example, a survey of 25 women and 75 men will not accurately reflect the views of the general population, which is around 50% male and 50% female.

The weighting for this data is based on Office for National Statistics population statistics.

Confidence intervals:

Confidence intervals for each ethnic group are available if you download the data.

The APS is based on a sample of the population in England, Wales and Scotland, rather than the whole population.

This page includes only reliable estimates ('statistically significant’) of the percentage of individuals who were unemployed. However, it’s impossible to be 100% certain of the true percentage.

For example, based on the APS results, it’s estimated that 3.7% of White individuals who were economically active were unemployed in 2018. It is 95% certain that between 3.6% and 3.8% of White individuals who were economically active were unemployed in 2018. In statistical terms, this is a 95% confidence interval. This means that if 100 random samples were taken, then 95 times out of 100, the estimate would fall in this range. But 5 times out of 100 it would fall outside this range.

The smaller the survey sample, the more uncertain the estimate and the wider the confidence interval. For example, fewer Black people responded to the survey, so we can be less certain about the estimate for the smaller group.

This greater uncertainty is expressed by a wider confidence interval, of between 7.5% and 10.1% for the Black ethnic group compared with 3.6% and 3.8% for the White ethnic group in 2018.

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.

Rounding

Estimates in the charts and tables are rounded to whole percentages. Estimates in the download file are rounded to 1 decimal place.

Quality and methodology information

11. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

Official statistics

Publisher

Office for National Statistics

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

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

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

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

The published statistics also allow government to monitor estimates on a range of issues between Censuses.

12. Download the data

Unemployment by region - Spreadsheet (csv) 4 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

Unemployment 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