BME Employment: Background information
The UK population stands at around 60.2 million people. BME groups account for around 4.5 million people (8% of the total population). Of these, approximately 50% are of Asian origin (mainly Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi); some 25% are Black Caribbean, 14.5% are of mixed race and around 10% are Chinese.
The Commission for Racial Equality's factfile Employment and Ethnicity (2006) notes the 2002 spending review target of 'reducing the gap between White and ethnic minority employment rates (which were 75% and 58%, respectively), through improvements in educational performance, employment programmes and equal opportunities policies, and by tackling specific barriers.'
It noted that the White/ethnic minority gap in employment rates was reduced between spring 2003 and spring 2005 from 16.9% to 15.4%, consistent with a government target to eliminate it by 2012.
Research consistently shows BME groups at a disadvantage in access to learning, skills and employment.
The Office for National Statistics has highlighted that most BME groups, especially Bangladeshis and Pakistanis, begin from relatively low levels of academic attainment, and experience high unemployment. Those with relevant academic attainments often fail to reap the rewards their qualification or experience merit.
The Department of Work and Pensions' report, Barriers to Employment for Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in Britain, confirmed that low social capital and low levels of the English language skills, large families, health problems and discrimination are major barriers for both groups.
The 2001 Census provided a snapshot of the significant range of employment and unemployment situations amongst BME communities.
|Ethnic Groups||Employed (%)||Unemployed (%)|
|Black Caribbean (m)||56||14|
|Black Caribbean (m)||55||9|
|Black African (m)||50||15|
|Black African (f)||42||13|
Source: 2001 Census
Some 20% of BME men are self–employed compared to 8% of BME women. The highest self-employment rates are amongst Indian, Pakistani and Chinese men and Chinese women.
London has both the highest and lowest working-age inactivity rates, with nearly 25% separating the two: Hackney (40%) and Sutton (15.4%).
68% of Muslim women are economically inactive as compared with 25% of their White British counterparts.
- Statistics: Economic inactivity highlights
- Position of ethnic minority women and men in Britain
- New series of CRE factfiles
- Home Office: Ethnic minority regional profile
- Worklessness and ethnicity