Pay gap between ethnic minority and white employees ‘at lowest level since 2012’

The pay gap between white and ethnic minority employees continues to fall and is at its smallest level for seven years, official figures show.

There was a 2.3% gap in earnings between white and ethnic minority employees in England and Wales in 2019, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

White employees earned on average £12.40 per hour, compared with £12.11 for those in 17 ethnic minority groups on average.

This is the smallest gap since 2012, when it was 5.1%.

The gap is calculated as the difference between the average hourly earnings of ethnic groups and white or white British employees, as a proportion of the average hourly earnings of the latter.

Between 2012 and 2019, Chinese, white Irish, white and Asian, and Indian ethnicities earned more on average than white British employees.

But most of the groups, including Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Arab, consistently earned less than white British employees over the same period.

The biggest gaps were between Pakistani workers (£10.55 per hour) and white British (£12.49 per hour), while white Irish workers earned £17.55 per hour on average.

Taking into account factors such as age, sex, marital status, children, qualifications, country of birth and location of employees narrows the gap for many ethnic groups, the ONS found.

It said: “Adjusting for pay determining characteristics influences the pay gaps observed, with a narrowing of pay gaps for most ethnicities.

“This suggests that differences in the average characteristics of different ethnic groups was influencing the unadjusted pay gap, often overstating the difference.”

It found the gap is larger for men than women, although men earn more than women across most ethnic groups.

In 2019, ethnic minority men earned 6.1% less than white men whilst the hourly pay of ethnic minority women was 2.1% more than white women.

It was most pronounced in London, at 23.8%, and smallest in Wales, at 1.4%, the ONS said.

Ethnic minority employees aged 30 and over tend to earn less than their white counterparts, while those aged 16-29 tend to earn more, the ONS found.

The primary source of data on earnings used by the ONS was the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE).