House of Commons Library

Employment by Country of Birth and Nationality

Published Friday, May 17, 2019

This Commons Library briefing paper analyses data on employment in the UK by country of birth and nationality. The briefing compares data from 1997 to 2018 and explains how figures for employment by nationality can differ to those for employment by country of birth.

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Employment by Nationality

In January-March 2019, there were 3.70 million people working in the UK who were not UK nationals, 11.3% of all people in employment. This included:

  • 2.38 million people who were nationals of other EU countries (7.3%)
  • 1.32 million people who were nationals of countries outside the EU (4.0%)

The number of non-UK nationals working in the UK is currently at its highest ever level.

The remaining 28.94 million people in employment (88.7%) were UK nationals.

The number of people working in the UK who were not UK nationals increased by 178,000 in the year to January-March 2019. The number of EU nationals in work increased by 98,000, and the number of non-EU nationals in work increased by 80,000.

The number of both EU nationals and non-EU nationals working in the UK are currently at their highest ever levels.

There was a 190,000 increase in the number of UK nationals in work.

The number of non-UK nationals who are employed in the UK was around four times higher in January-March 2019 than it was in 1997. The share of all people in employment who are non-UK nationals has increased from 3.5% to 11.3%.

Since 2012 there have generally been increases in the number of non-UK nationals in employment. The exception was in the first three quarters of 2018, when the number of non-UK nationals in employment fell compared with the year before.

 

Employment by Country of Birth

In January-March 2019, there were 5.80 million people in employment who were born outside the UK, 17.8% of all people in employment. This included:

  • 2.42 million people born in other EU countries (7.4%)
  • 3.38 million people born outside the EU (10.3%)

The remaining 26.84 million people in employment (82.2%) were born in the UK.

The number of employed people who were born outside the UK is currently at its highest ever level.

The increase in the number of people in work in the year to January-March 2019 was higher for those who were born outside the UK than for those born in the UK. The increase for those born outside the UK was 182,000, while the number born in the UK increased by 179,000.

This increase for those born outside the UK was mainly driven by the increase for those born outside the EU. Employment for those born outside the EU increased by 124,000 over the last year, while employment for people born in other EU countries increased by 58,000.

Employment rates

In January-March 2019, the employment rate for non-UK nationals was less than the rate for UK nationals. The employment rate for UK nationals was 76.1%, compared to 75.3% for all non-UK nationals.

However, employment rates vary significantly depending on which country a non-UK national comes from.

Nationals of other EU countries had an employment rate of 82.7%, compared to 64.8% for non-EU nationals.

Commons Briefing papers SN07056

Author: Andy Powell

Topic: Employment

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