This project was undertaken on behalf of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as part of its Poverty and Ethnicity research programme. It was one of five projects funded in autumn 2013 under the etheme of "exploring the links through quantitative research" which formed Phase 2 of the programme. This project has produced the first set of projections of employment by ethnic group in the UK over the period 2012 to 2022. It builds upon the Institute's latest Working Futures 5 projections of employment, combining these with projections of the population by ethnic group produced by Leeds University.

Methodology

The project involved three elements:

  1. Building a database of employment by ethnic group, industry, occupation, gender, region/nation and age from the quarterly Labour Force Survey, covering the period from spring 1992 to the end of 2013. This data base was used to analyse trends over time in labour market participation and employment rates.
  2. Adapting the ETHPOP projections (produced by the Department of Geography at Leeds University as part of the ESRC UPTAP research programme) of the population by ethnic group age, gender and geography to create a data base of working age population estimates for the period 2012 to 2022.
  3. Taking Working Futures 5 projections of employment by industry, occupation, geographical region and gender and applying projections of employment rates by ethnic group, gender and geography to create estimated projections of employment by ethnic group.

The projections are for the "conventional" working age population (aged 16 to 64).

Results

In the UK as a whole, men and women from all ethnic groups are projected to share in the increase in employment between 2012 and 2022. The largest relative increases in employment over the period are projected to be amongst those individuals of Mixed parentage, followed by those who are from Other ethnic groups. The ethnic minority groups with the smallest relative increases in employment – the Indian, Chinese and Black groups – are all projected to see an increase in employment of between a fifth and a quarter, while a 3 per cent increase in employment is projected for the White group, which accounts for just over 40 per cent of the growth in total employment. In the UK the share of total employment accounted for by White people is projected to fall to 86 per cent in 2022, down from 89 per cent in 2012.

Employment by broad sector

In 2022, men from ethnic minorities are projected to remain disproportionately concentrated in the Trade, accommodation & transport sector. This concentration is especially marked for the Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Other ethnic group, who are projected to remain under-represented in Business & other services. In contrast, the Indian, Mixed parentage, Chinese, Black and Other ethnic group are disproportionately concentrated in this broad sector. In London, where the Business & other services sector is projected to account for 50 per cent of male employment in 2022, the Mixed parentage, Indian and Chinese group are projected to intensify their concentration. Despite a greater than average decrease in the share of employment in Non-market services (health, education, social services and public administration) over the period 2012-2022, Black males are projected to remain disproportionately concentrated in this sector. Males from the Other White group are disproportionately concentrated in the Construction sector in London and in Manufacturing in the Rest of England.

Key features in terms of the ethnic profile of female employment by broad sector in 2022 are the marked over-representation of Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Chinese and Any other Asian women in Trade, accommodation & transport in 2022, which represents a slight intensification in the position in 2012. In contrast, females from the Mixed parentage, Indian and Chinese ethnic groups are over-represented in the Business & other services sector, as are (to a less marked extent) those from Black and Other ethnic groups. Black females are projected to maintain their over-representation in Non-market services in 2022.

Employment by occupation

In the UK, ethnic minorities are projected to account for 14 per cent, 12 per cent and 22 per cent of total male employment in High, Intermediate and Low pay occupations respectively in 2022. Indian males, Chinese males and males of Mixed parentage are also disproportionately concentrated amongst High pay occupations. Pakistani and Bangladeshi males are over-represented amongst Intermediate pay occupations. Males from all ethnic minority groups other than the Chinese group are projected to be concentrated in Low pay occupations in 2022, particularly those from the Other Asian, Bangladeshi and Black groups.

Occupational profile of UK male employment by ethnic group, 2022 (percenatge of all in employment)

Low pay occupations are projected to account for a greater share of female employment than of male employment in 2022, while Intermediate pay occupations account for a smaller share than for males. The proportion of total female employment accounted for by Low pay occupations is greatest for the Bangladeshi, Any other Asian and Pakistani groups and least for the Indian and Chinese groups.

Occupational profile of UK female employment by ethnic group, 2022 (percenatge of all in employment)

Professionalisation and polarisation

The occupational structure of the UK labour market is changing, with the number of jobs at the high and low end of the skills range increasing, while the number in the middle is shrinking. Working Futures 5 projects these trends to continue between 2012 and 2022.

This pattern will influence the nature of employment change by ethnic group. Different patterns of professionalisation (defined as increases in the share of employment in High pay occupations only or in High pay and Intermediate occupations) and polarisation (defined as an increase in the share of employment in High pay and Low pay occupations and a decrease in the share of Intermediate occupations) are predicted by ethnic group and gender. There are some ethnic groups for which increases in the shares of total employment are confined to Low pay or Low pay and Intermediate occupations. The projected trends are summarised in the table below for the UK and broad geographical breakdowns:

Nation/ region Gender Professionalisation Polarisation Increase in Low pay occupations
UK Male Chinese TOTAL, White, Mixed Parentage, Indian, Bangladeshi, Black Pakistani, Any other Asian, Other ethnic group
UK Female TOTAL, White, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Black Mixed parentage, Pakistani, Any Other Asian Other ethnic group
London Male TOTAL, White British, Indian, Chinese, Black Caribbean, Black African, Other Black Other White group, Mixed parentage, Bangladeshi, Any other Asian Pakistani, Other ethnic group
London Female TOTAL, White British, Other White group, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Any other Asian, Black Caribbean, Black African Other Black, Other ethnic group  
Rest of England Male   TOTAL, White British, Mixed parentage, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Black Caribbean, Other Black Other White group, Any other Asian, Black African, Other ethnic group
Rest of England Female TOTAL, White British, Chinese Other White group, Mixed parentage, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Any other Asian, Black Caribbean Black African, Other Black, Other ethnic group

Implications of the findings for policy and practice

Overall, this research suggests that existing ethnic inequalities in the labour market are likely to persist over the medium term. This means it is important for policy makers and practitioners to not only help those outside the labour market to access employment, but also to promote the quality of, and progression in, employment for people from ethnic minorities, particularly those from the most disadvantaged groups.
While this analysis focuses on projected employment in 2022 and net changes (so-called ‘expansion demand’) between 2012 and 2022, a much larger number of job openings arise as a result of ‘replacement demand’ as workers leave employment entirely as a result of retirement or move occupationally or geographically within the labour market. This means that there are job opportunities arising even in declining occupations and industries. This suggests that it is important for policy makers and practitioners to use labour market information and intelligence to identify coherent pathways into and within employment from low pay to higher pay jobs.
The technical and data challenges faced in producing projections by ethnic groups reveal that larger sample sizes, more complete data on a full range of individual and employment characteristics, and a longer time series would be required for detailed projections of employment characteristics for smaller ethnic groups in the devolved nations of the UK as well as for most English regions. This indicates the importance of promoting improvements in data on employment by ethnic group.

Final Report and Findings

The Final Report of the project and a Findings summary were published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on March 30th 2015.

Technical Details

A report which provides details of the data sets, the challenges faced in using them and the methods used to create the projections has been produced. You can find it here.

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the JRF project officer (Helen Barnard) and the members of the Project Advisory Group for their helpful comments. In particular, we would like to thank Professor Phil Rees for his advice on using the ETHPOP population projections, and his insights into the potential applications for these projections. We would also like to thank Luke Bosworth and Peter Millar for their invaluable help and advice with the LFS and Working Futures data sets.