Employment rate for ethnic minorities still lagging behind, survey finds


Substantial weaknesses for jobs remain for ethnic minority people, who have lower employment rates than other groups, research has revealed.

A study by the Resolution Foundation found that the employment gap between the best and worst performing regions of the UK was 11%, but for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people the figure is 26%.

The think-tank said an analysis of information from 20 areas found that the best BAME employment was in Scotland, outside Glasgow, at 74%, compared with the lowest of 48% in the North East, outside Tyne & Wear - a difference of 26 percentage points.

For the wider population aged 16 to 64, employment was highest in the South East of England at 77% and lowest in the Birmingham city area where it was 66%. 

Some of the gap is explained by ethnic minorities facing barriers to work such as single motherhood or low skills, said the report.

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."

Commenting on the report, Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: "Fifty years after the Race Relations Act, this report suggests that ethnic minorities are still facing challenges in finding opportunities to enter and stay in work.

"We know from our recently published review of equality and human rights in the UK, that despite improvements in educational performance, people from almost every ethnic minority group suffered higher rates of unemployment and received lower pay than white workers.

"This is why the Commission's consistent view has been that the Government needs to do more to address the hurdles that ethnic minorities face by putting in place a long-term strategy to achieve equality of opportunity regardless of race."

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "The employment rate for ethnic minorities is at a record rate, and we help people from all backgrounds take advantage of the nearly 750,000 vacancies in the economy at any one time.

"The diversity of this country means we tailor support to individuals, rather than simply defining people's needs by their ethnicity."