House of Commons Library

Employment by Country of Birth and Nationality

Published Thursday, December 19, 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 July-September 2019, there were 3.59 million people working in the UK who were not UK nationals, 10.9% of all people in employment. This included:

  • 24 million people who were nationals of other EU countries (6.8%)
  • 35 million people who were nationals of countries outside the EU (4.1%)

The remaining 29.21 million people in employment (89.0%) were UK nationals.

The number of people working in the UK who were not UK nationals increased by 122,000 in the year to July-September 2019. The number of EU nationals in work increased by 6,000, and the number of non-EU nationals in work increased by 116,000.

The number of EU nationals working in the UK is currently close to its highest ever level, as is the number of non-UK nationals in the UK. The number of non-EU nationals working in the UK is at its highest ever level.

There was a 182,000 increase in the number of UK nationals in work in the same year.

The number of non-UK nationals who are employed in the UK was more than three and a half times higher in July-September 2019 than it was in 1997. The share of all people in employment who are non-UK nationals has increased from 3.7% to 10.9%.

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, as shown in the chart below.

 

Employment by Country of Birth

In July-September 2019, there were 5.77 million people in employment who were born outside the UK, 17.6% of all people in employment. This included:

  • 37 million people born in other EU countries (7.2%)
  • 40 million people born outside the EU (10.4%)

The remaining 27.03 million people in employment (82.4%) were born in the UK.

The increase in the number of people in work in the year to July-September 2019 was 238,000 for those born outside the UK, while the number born in the UK increased by 65,000. Employment for those born outside the EU increased by 157,000, while employment for people born in other EU countries increased by 81,000.

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

Employment rates

In July-September 2019, the employment rate for non-UK nationals, was the same as the rate for UK nationals and the employment rate for people born outside the UK was the same rate for those born in the UK.

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 82.8%, compared to 67.2% for non-EU nationals.

Commons Briefing papers SN07056

Authors: Brigid Francis-Devine; Andy Powell

Topic: Employment

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