Unemployment

The main facts and figures show that:

  • in 2016, just over 4% of White people were unemployed, which is lower than the rate of unemployment for people from all other ethnic groups

  • the group with the highest rate of unemployment in 2016 was Pakistani/Bangladeshi (11%), and the group with the lowest rate was White Other (4%)

  • unemployment rates were higher for people from ethnic minorities (other than White ethnic minorities) than for White people across the country; these differences were largest in London (9% for ethnic minorities and 4% for White), the West Midlands (11% for ethnic minorities and 5% for White) and the North West (9% for ethnic minorities and 5% for White)

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 ‘unemployment rate’ in England, Wales and Scotland across different ethnic groups.

The ‘unemployment rate’ is the number of people who are unemployed as a percentage of the total economically active population. A person is ‘economically active’ if they are either in employment or are unemployed. They are not counted as economically active if they are caring for family or retired, or they are in full-time education and not in paid work.

A person is counted as unemployed if all 3 of the following apply:

  • they are out of work
  • they are available to start work in the next 2 weeks
  • they have either been actively 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’ and is often used in published UK statistics. It gives a more complete picture of unemployment than alternatives such as a count of claimants for out-of-work benefits, because it includes individuals regardless of whether or not they are claiming benefits.

The figures come from the Annual Population Survey (APS), which is a general household survey covering the UK. It uses data from the Labour Force Survey as well as other local data.

The ethnic categories used in this data

Where possible, data is broken down into 9 groups:

  • White British
  • White Other
  • Black
  • Mixed
  • Indian
  • Pakistani/Bangladeshi
  • Other Asian
  • Other ethnic groups
  • Unknown

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.

Ethnic groups and how data on ethnicity is collected

Unemployment by ethnicity

Percentage of unemployed people by ethnicity

Ethnicity % Total unemployed
All 5 1,551,000
Asian 7 158,000
Indian 5 45,000
Pakistani/Bangladeshi 11 82,000
Asian other 5 31,000
Black 10 104,000
Mixed 10 40,000
White 4 1,212,000
White British 4 1,106,000
White other 4 106,000
Other 7 37,000

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2016, the overall unemployment rate was 5%

  • the group with the highest rate of unemployment was Pakistani/Bangladeshi (11%), and the groups with the lowest rate were White British and White Other (4%)

Unemployment by ethnicity (White and Other)

Percentage of people from the White and Other ethnic groups who are unemployed

Ethnicity % Total unemployed
All 5 1,551,000
White 4 1,212,000
Other 8 338,000

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2016, the overall unemployment rate was 5%

  • 4% of White people were unemployed, compared with 8% from ethnic minorities (other than White minorities)

Unemployment by ethnicity over time

Percentage of unemployed people by ethnicity over time

Ethnicity 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
% % % % % % % % % % % % %
All 5 5 5 5 6 8 8 8 8 8 6 5 5
Indian 7 7 8 7 7 9 8 N/A* 10 9 6 7 5
Pakistani/Bangladeshi 13 13 15 15 15 17 16 N/A* 17 18 14 12 11
Asian other 9 8 8 9 7 9 9 N/A* 10 9 8 7 6
Black 13 14 13 13 14 18 16 N/A* 17 17 15 12 10
Mixed 12 12 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 12 13 14 15 N/A* 16 16 13 11 11
White British 4 4 5 5 5 7 7 N/A* 7 7 6 5 4
White other 6 6 5 5 5 7 6 N/A* 6 6 6 5 4
Other 11 11 13 10 11 12 13 N/A* 14 13 10 9 7

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • from 2004 to 2016, the White British and White Other groups had the lowest rates of unemployment

  • in the same period, the Pakistani/Bangladeshi and Black groups had the highest rates of unemployment

  • although the chart shows differences in the rate of unemployment for various other ethnic groups between 2004 and 2016, small sample sizes make generalisations based on these results unreliable

Unemployment by ethnicity and gender

Percentage and number of unemployed people by ethnicity and gender

Female Male
Ethnicity % Unemployed people % Unemployed people
White 4 550,000 4 662,000
All other ethnic groups 9 160,000 8 177,000

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2016, unemployment rates in the White group were the same for men and women; in all other ethnic groups, men had a lower unemployment rate than women

  • White women were less likely to be unemployed than women from all other ethnic groups (4% compared to 9% respectively)

  • White men were less likely to be unemployed than men from all other ethnic groups (4% to 8% respectively)

Unemployment by ethnicity and age

Percentage and number of unemployed people by ethnicity and age

White Other
Age group % Total unemployed % Total unemployed
16-24 12 450,000 23 120,000
25-49 3 504,000 6 174,000
50-64 3 241,000 6 42,000
65+ 2 17,000 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
All 4 1,212,000 8 338,000

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • across all working age groups in 2016, White people had a lower rate of unemployment than people from all other ethnic groups

  • in the 16 to 24 age group, people from other ethnic groups were almost twice as likely to be unemployed (23%) as people from the White group (12%) – the largest gap of any age group, at 11 percentage points

  • in 2016, the unemployment rate for people from other ethnic groups in age groups from 25 to 64 years was double the rate for White people (6% compared with 3% respectively)

  • people aged 16 to 24 years were around 4 times more likely to be unemployed than people aged 25 to 64 years; for White people, the rates were 12% and 3% respectively, and for all other ethnic groups, the rates were 23% and 6% respectively

Unemployed 16-24 year olds by ethnicity over time

Percentage of unemployed 16-24 year olds by ethnicity over time

Year White Other
% %
2004 11 24
2005 12 23
2006 13 23
2007 13 24
2008 14 26
2009 18 29
2010 18 31
2011 N/A* N/A*
2012 20 33
2013 18 35
2014 16 27
2015 13 24
2016 12 23

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

The 16 to 24 year old age group was more likely to be unemployed than people in the older age groups (see 'Unemployment by ethnicity and age').

This data shows that:

  • the rate of unemployment for White 16 to 24 year olds has fallen from 20% in 2012 to 12% in 2016, a drop of 8 percentage points

  • the rate of unemployment for 16 to 24 year olds from other ethnic groups has fallen from 35% in 2013 to 23% in 2016, a drop of 12 percentage points

  • unemployment rates in 2016 were similar to rates in 2004 for 16 to 24 year olds from both the White and other ethnic groups

  • 2013 saw the biggest difference in unemployment rate between White 16 to 24 year olds (18%) and those from other ethnic groups (35%) – a gap of 17 percentage points

Unemployment by ethnicity and area

Percentage and number of unemployed people by ethnicity and area

White Other
Region % Total unemployed % Total unemployed
All 4 1,212,000 8 338,000
East Midlands 4 88,000 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 13,000
East of England 4 104,000 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 16,000
London 4 119,000 9 153,000
North East 6 79,000 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 6,000
North West 5 150,000 9 31,000
Scotland 5 122,000 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 7,000
South East 4 160,000 7 28,000
South West 4 104,000 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 10,000
Wales 5 66,000 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 3,000
West Midlands 5 103,000 11 51,000
Yorkshire and The Humber 5 118,000 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 21,000

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in all regions in 2016, the rate of unemployment for the White group was lower than for people from all other ethnic groups

  • the West Midlands had the largest gap in unemployment rates between White (5%) and all other ethnic groups (11%) – a difference of 6 percentage points

  • the East Midlands and East of England had the smallest gap in unemployment rates between White (4%) and all other ethnic groups (6%) – a difference of 2 percentage points

Methodology

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 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.

Weighting

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

Data sources

Source

Annual Population Survey

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Department for Work and Pensions

Publication frequency

Quarterly

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

unemployment-by-region.csv

This file contains unemployment rates by ethnicity, time, gender, region, age, with numerator, denominator, sample size and confidence intervals

unemployment-by-local-authority.csv

This file contains unemployment rates by ethnicity, time, gender, local authority area and age, with numerator, denominator, sample size and confidence intervals