Unemployment

The main facts and figures show that:

  • in 2017, the total working age population (people aged 16 to 64 years) in England, Wales and Scotland was just under 40 million – of those, just over 34 million people were White, and nearly 6 million people were from all other ethnic groups combined
  • overall, in 2017, 4% of the economically active population was unemployed – the ‘economically active population’ includes all people who are available for work, whether they are employed or unemployed (and it excludes people who are retired, caring for family, or in full-time education and not in paid work)
  • in 2017, just under 4% of White people were unemployed, compared with 8% of people from all other ethnic groups combined
  • the Pakistani/Bangladeshi ethnic group had the highest rate of unemployment in 2017 (10%), and the Other White group had the lowest rate (4%)
  • in every region in England, Wales and Scotland, unemployment rates were higher for people from ethnic minorities (other than White ethnic minorities) compared with White people; these differences were largest in Yorkshire and The Humber, North West, South West, and the West Midlands
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.

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. When further breaking down the data by individual ethnic groups, any values based on fewer than 100 responses have been withheld. This is to protect respondents’ confidentiality or because the numbers involved are too small to draw any reliable conclusions.

Data is sourced from the APS to get more detailed information such as unemployment by 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.

Changes were made to the APS ethnicity questions in 2011, to make them more consistent with ethnicity questions in the national Census and Scottish Census. As a result, there may be some inconsistencies between estimates from before and after 2011, and data on unemployment rates for individual ethnic groups in 2011 is not available.

Download the data for additional estimates for the broad White and Other ethnic groups at the lower local authority level, and estimates for the Other ethnic group analysed by age, gender and over time.

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 and area.

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

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

Data is shown for the following ethnic groups:

Asian:

  • Indian
  • Pakistani or Bangladeshi
  • Any other Asian ethnicity (including Chinese)

Black

Mixed/multiple ethnicities

White:

  • White British
  • White other

Any other ethnic group

Where data is broken down by gender, age group, and area, the number of people surveyed (the ‘sample size’) was too small to draw any firm conclusions about specific ethnic categories, so data is shown for the following 2 categories:

  • 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 when calculating the total number of people in employment (shown as the ‘All’ group in the data).

Ethnic groups and how data on ethnicity is collected

Unemployment by ethnicity

Number of unemployed people within each ethnic group, and percentage of the economically active population within each ethnic group that was unemployed

Ethnicity % Total unemployed
All 4 1,424,700
Asian 7 158,000
Indian 6 51,100
Pakistani and Bangladeshi 10 74,700
Asian other inc Chinese withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Black 9 87,300
Mixed withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
White 4 1,105,300
White British 4 1,002,700
White other 4 102,600
Other 8 42,200

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • overall, in 2017, the unemployment rate was 4% – that is, 4% of the economically active population was unemployed (the ‘economically active population’ includes all people who are available for work, whether they are employed or unemployed, and it excludes people who are retired, caring for family, or in full-time education and not in paid work)
  • the ethnic group with the highest rate of unemployment was the Pakistani/Bangladeshi group (10%), followed by the Black ethnic group (9%)
  • the ethnic groups with the lowest rate of unemployment were the White British and Other White groups (both at 4%)

Unemployment by ethnicity (White and Other ethnic groups)

Percentage and number of economically active people who were unemployed within the White ethnic group and all other ethnic groups combined (‘Other’)

Ethnicity % Total unemployed
All 4 1,424,700
White 4 1,105,300
Other than White 8 317,000

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2017, 4% of the economically active White population was unemployed, compared with 8% from all other ethnic groups combined

Unemployment by ethnicity over time

Percentage of the economically active population within each ethnic group that was unemployed, over time

Ethnicity 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
% % % % % % % % % % % % % %
All 5 5 5 5 6 8 8 8 8 8 6 5 5 4
Asian 9 9 10 10 9 11 11 N/A* 12 12 9 8 7 7
Indian 7 7 8 7 7 9 8 N/A* 10 9 6 7 5 6
Pakistani and Bangladeshi 13 13 15 15 15 17 16 N/A* 17 18 14 12 11 10
Asian other inc Chinese 9 8 8 9 7 9 9 N/A* 10 9 8 7 6 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Black 13 14 13 13 14 18 16 N/A* 17 17 15 12 10 9
Mixed 12 12 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 12 13 14 15 N/A* 16 16 13 11 11 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
White 4 4 5 5 5 7 7 N/A* 7 7 6 5 4 4
White British 4 4 5 5 5 7 7 N/A* 7 7 6 5 4 4
White other 6 6 5 5 5 7 6 N/A* 6 6 6 5 4 4
Other 11 11 13 10 11 12 13 N/A* 14 13 10 9 7 8

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in every year between 2004 and 2017, the White British and Other White ethnic groups consistently had the lowest rates of unemployment
  • in the same period, the Pakistani/Bangladeshi and Black ethnic groups had the highest rates of unemployment in every year except 2016 (when the Mixed ethnic group had the joint highest rate with the Pakistani/Bangladeshi group)
  • although the chart shows differences in the rate of unemployment for other ethnic groups between 2004 and 2017, small sample sizes make generalisations based on these results unreliable

Unemployment by ethnicity and gender

Number of unemployed people within each ethnic group, and percentage of the economically active population within each ethnic group that was unemployed, by gender

All Men Women
Ethnicity % Unemployed people % Unemployed people % Unemployed people
All 4 1,424,700 5 777,900 4 646,800
White 4 1,105,300 4 621,600 4 483,600
Other than White 8 317,000 7 155,600 9 161,400

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2017, the unemployment rate for ethnic minority groups (excluding White minorities) was higher for women (9%) than men (7%)
  • White women were less likely to be unemployed than women from all other ethnic groups combined, at 4% and 9% respectively
  • White men were less likely to be unemployed than men from all other ethnic groups combined, at 4% and 7% respectively

Unemployment by ethnicity and age group

Number of unemployed people within each ethnic group, and percentage of the economically active population within each ethnic group that was unemployed, by age group

All White Other than White
age_band % Total unemployed % Total unemployed % Total unemployed
16-24 12 516,300 11 410,300 19 105,300
25-49 3 619,400 3 450,200 6 168,100
50-64 3 266,600 3 225,200 6 41,300
65+ 2 22,400 2 19,600 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
All (16+) 4 1,424,700 4 1,105,300 8 317,000

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in all working age groups in 2017 (between 16 and 64 years old), White people had a lower rate of unemployment than people from all other ethnic groups combined
  • among people aged 16 to 24 years, people from ethnic minority groups (excluding White minorities) were almost twice as likely to be unemployed (19%) as people from the White group (11%) – this was the largest gap of any age group, at 8 percentage points
  • among people aged 25 to 49 years, and those aged 50 to 64 years, the unemployment rate for people from ethnic minority groups (excluding White minorities) was double the rate for White (at 6% and 3% respectively)
  • people aged 16 to 24 years were around 4 times more likely to be unemployed than people aged 25 to 49 years and those aged 50 to 64 years; for White people, the unemployment rates were 11% for those aged 16 to 24 years and 3% for those aged between 25 and 64 years; for all other ethnic groups combined, the unemployment rates were 19% for people aged 16 to 24 years and 6% for those aged between 25 and 64 years

Unemployment among 16 to 24 year olds by ethnicity over time

Percentage of the economically active population aged 16 to 24 years within each ethnic group that was unemployed, over time

All White Other than White
year % Total unemployed % Total unemployed % Total 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 N/A* N/A* N/A* N/A*
2012 21 946,200 20 778,400 33 167,400
2013 20 894,100 18 711,500 35 182,200
2014 17 742,100 16 605,200 27 134,900
2015 14 629,700 13 503,600 24 126,100
2016 13 570,300 12 450,300 23 120,000
2017 12 516,300 11 410,300 19 105,300

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.

This data shows that:

  • the rate of unemployment for White people aged 16 to 24 years has fallen from 20% in 2012 (its highest point in the period studied) to 11% in 2017, a drop of 9 percentage points
  • the rate of unemployment for people aged 16 to 24 years from all other ethnic groups combined has fallen from 33% in 2012 (its highest point in the period studied) to 19% in 2017, a drop of 13 percentage points
  • unemployment rates in 2017 were similar to rates in 2004 for White people aged 16 to 24 years, but they were higher in 2004 than in 2017 for all other ethnic groups combined (24% compared with 19%)
  • 2013 saw the biggest difference in the unemployment rate between White people aged 16 to 24 years (18%) and those from other all ethnic groups combined (35%), a gap of 17 percentage points; by 2017, the gap had reduced to 8 percentage points

Unemployment by ethnicity and area

Percentage of the economically active population within each ethnic group that was unemployed, by area

All White Other than White
region % Total unemployed % Total unemployed % Total unemployed
All 4 1,424,700 4 1,105,300 8 317,000
East Midlands 4 104,000 4 87,400 7 16,600
East of England 4 114,700 3 97,500 6 17,200
London 5 260,200 4 119,400 8 140,300
North East 6 79,200 6 73,600 9 4,900
North West 4 157,200 4 127,300 9 30,000
Scotland 4 111,200 4 104,600 6 6,600
South East 3 149,900 3 127,500 5 21,700
South West 3 93,500 3 83,800 7 9,700
Wales 5 71,500 5 67,100 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
West Midlands 5 148,300 5 107,700 9 39,900
Yorkshire and The Humber 5 134,900 5 109,200 10 25,700

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in every region in 2017, the rate of unemployment for the White ethnic group was lower than for all other ethnic groups combined
  • Yorkshire and the Humber, and the North West, had the largest gap in unemployment rates between the White ethnic group (5% and 4%, respectively) and all other ethnic groups combined (10% and 9%, respectively) – a difference of 6 percentage points in both regions
  • Scotland, and the South East, had the smallest gap in unemployment rates between the White ethnic group (4% and 3%, respectively) and all other ethnic groups combined (6% and 5%, respectively) – a difference of 2 percentage points in both regions

Methodology

Methodology

The Annual Population Survey (APS) 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 makeup as the general population.

The Office for National Statistics population estimates and projections are used as the basis for this weighting process.

Confidence intervals:

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

Based on the APS, it is estimated that 3.9% of White individuals who were economically active were unemployed in 2017.

The data from the APS is based on a sample of the population in England, Wales and Scotland, rather than the whole population. The estimate obtained from this sample is a reliable estimate of the percentage of individuals unemployed, but it’s impossible to be 100% certain of the true percentage for the whole population.

It’s 95% certain, however, that somewhere between 3% (lower bound of the confidence interval) and 4.8% (upper bound of the confidence interval) of White individuals who were economically active were unemployed in 2017. 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 between the lower and upper bounds of the confidence interval. 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, the sample has less data for individuals from the Black ethnic group than from the White ethnic group, 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 3.8% and 14.4% for the Black ethnic group compared with 3% and 4.8% for the White ethnic group in 2017.

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

Percentages are rounded to whole numbers in charts and tables. Download the data to see the percentages rounded to 1 decimal place.

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 more detailed level than is possible in the Labour Force Survey.

Download the data

Unemployment by region - Spreadsheet (csv) 1 MB

This file contains the following variables: measure, year, region, ethnicity, ethnicity_type, sex, age_band, value, confidence_interval, numerator, denominator, samp_size

Unemployment by local authority - Spreadsheet (csv) 562 KB

This file contains the following variables: measure, age_band, year, local_authority, ethnicity, ethnicity_type, value, confidence_interval, numerator, denominator, samp_size