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Unemployment by ethnic background

Published Monday, March 4, 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.

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The (seasonally adjusted) UK unemployment rate was 3.9% in October-December 2018. The rate was 3.5% for people from a White background compared to 6.7% for people from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds, although there was substantial variation between different ethnic minority groups.

Both these figures have decreased sharply over the past five years and are below their levels in the early to mid-2000s. After the economic downturn in 2008, 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% while the rate for people from BAME backgrounds increased to 14.7% following the downturn.

Unemployment rates by ethnic background: UK, 2002-18

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

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