House of Commons Library

Unemployment by ethnic background

Published Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The unemployment rate is higher for people from a BAME background than from a White background, although the rate varies considerably by ethnic group. This short paper summarises trends in unemployment rates and looks at how rates vary by ethnicity, age and gender.

Jump to full report >>

The (seasonally adjusted) UK unemployment rate was 3.8% in January-March 2019. The rate was 3.4% for people from a White background compared to 6.9% for people from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds, although there was substantial variation between different ethnic minority groups.

The unemployment rates for people from both White and BAME background are currently at historically low levels, and are below the rates seen prior to the economic downturn in 2008.

Following the downturn there was an increase in unemployment rates across ethnic groups. The unemployment rate for people from a White background reached a peak of 7.8% in 2011 while the rate for people from BAME backgrounds increased to a peak of 14.7% in 2009. The rate for those from BAME background has more than halved since 2009.

Unemployment rates by ethnic background: UK, 2002-18

In the 12 months to June 2018, the unemployment rate was highest for people from a Bangladeshi background (13%), followed by those from a Pakistani or Black background (9%). The unemployment rates for people from Indian or Chinese backgrounds was similar to that for White people.

Commons Briefing papers SN06385

Author: Andy Powell

Topics: Ethnic groups, Unemployment

Share this page

Stay up to date

  • Subscribe to RSS feed Subscribe to Email alerts Commons Briefing papers

House of Commons Library

The House of Commons Library provides research, analysis and information services for MPs and their staff.