26 percentage point gap between best and worst parts of the UK for BAME employment

Closing sub-regional employment gaps central to reaching full employment and would mean 150,000 more ethnic minority people in work

The employment gap between the best and worst performing sub-regions of the UK for all working-aged people is just 11 percentage points, but this more than doubles to 26 percentage points for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people, according to new analysis published today (Monday) by independent think tank the Resolution Foundation. The analysis forms part of a major project on full employment.

Looking at 20 areas across the UK including city and rural sub-regions, the analysis finds that the best area for BAME employment is Scotland (outside of Glasgow) with an employment rate of 74 per cent. The worst area is the North East (outside of Tyne & Wear), where less than half (48 per cent) of working-age BAME people are in work.

Bringing all sub-regions of the UK in line with the best performing overall employment areas (the East, South East and South West) would mean 150,000 more BAME people in work, and a halving of the BAME regional employment rate gap from 26 per cent to 14 per cent. The remaining gap reflects the fact that ethnic minority people in some parts of the country are more likely to face other barriers, such as single motherhood or being low skilled.

The overall employment rate for all 16-64 year olds in the UK is 73 per cent, dropping to 62 per cent for working age BAME people (a difference of 11 percentage points). A ‘high participation’ group (prime-aged, non-disabled, non-single parent, highly-qualified, white people) has a far higher employment rate, at 93 per cent.

Addressing the issues that prevent BAME people from entering or staying in work will be essential if the UK is to move towards full employment, the analysis indicates. This will include driving up demand for workers across the country by ensuring economic growth is as widely-shared as possible, and targeted policy action on the barriers faced by specific groups including skills, health problems and family circumstances. The final report of the Resolution Foundation’s full employment project, to be published in early 2016, will set out detailed policy recommendations for moving towards the government’s full employment ambitions.

Laura Gardiner, Senior Research and Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation said:

“The UK’s performance on jobs has been one of the biggest success stories in recent years, resulting in more people in work than ever before. But substantial weaknesses remain for certain groups such as ethnic minority people, who have lower employment rates overall and experience even greater penalties in the worst-performing areas.

“Achieving full employment, which the Chancellor is right to target, must involve addressing the issues that prevent ethnic minority groups from entering or staying in work, and ensuring they have an equal chance of securing a quality job no matter where they live. The government needs to set the right economic conditions, alongside pulling the right policy levers that stimulate job creation and encourage people to join the workforce. The involvement of local partnerships in commissioning the successor to the Work Programme will be an early opportunity to ensure that the needs of ethnic minority groups are met.”

16-64 employment rate, 2014-15 All 16-64 year olds Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) High participation group (prime age(30-49), highly qualified, white, not disabled and not a single parent)
UK 73.1% 61.7% 93.5%
Tyne and Wear (Newcastle city region) 70.8% 56.9% 94.8%
Rest of North East 68.5% 47.5% 91.3%
Greater Manchester 70.1% 59.9% 95.0%
Merseyside (Liverpool city region) 65.8% 51.7% 92.4%
Rest of North West 73.9% 59.6% 94.4%
South Yorkshire (Sheffield city region) 71.2% 55.0% 95.8%
West Yorkshire (Leeds city region) 70.6% 53.3% 93.7%
Rest of Yorkshire & Humberside 74.6% 63.9% 95.5%
East Midlands 74.1% 63.7% 94.6%
West Midlands Metropolitan County (Bhamcity region) 65.6% 52.9% 93.5%
Rest of West Midlands 75.5% 67.0% 94.5%
East of England 76.5% 68.4% 93.4%
Inner London 70.7% 58.4% 89.4%
Outer London 72.9% 65.2% 92.7%
South East 76.7% 67.6% 93.0%
South West 76.5% 64.3% 94.0%
Wales 69.2% 59.1% 93.3%
Strathclyde (Glasgow city region) 71.3% 58.0% 95.5%
Rest of Scotland 76.0% 73.8% 95.1%
Northern Ireland 68.2% 71.8% 95.8%


Notes to Editors

  • All figures refer to the working age population (16-64 year olds) during the 2014-15 financial year, based on analysis of the ONS Labour Force Survey.
  • Estimates of the employment increase that would result from bringing all of the UK’s 20 sub-regions in line with the best performing (defined as the three sub-regions with the highest overall employment rates: the East, South East and South West) are based on regression analysis of individuals’ employment chances in these three areas during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 financial years. This analysis controls for individuals’ multiple and overlapping characteristics: age, level of qualification, motherhood and single parenthood, ethnicity, and disability status. The results are applied to the country as a whole, and therefore show the employment boost if individuals everywhere had the same employment chances as they do in the East, South East and South West, accounting for their different characteristics.