New Census Analysis on Unemployment Rates

Fri,12 January 2024
News Employment Equality & Rights
New analysis of the 2021 Census was released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) this week, focusing on how unemployment rates vary at the intersection of ethnicity and disability.

2021 Census data already highlighted the existence of ethnicity and disability pay and employment gaps. For example, since 2012, Black, African, Caribbean or Black British employees earned less (£13.53) median gross hourly pay than White employees (£14.35). Many factors, including country of birth, impacted ethnicity pay gaps.  

Whereas TUC and ONS research puts the current disability pay gap at 14.6% and the disability employment gap at 28%.  

These employment and pay gaps exist for a variety of reasons – including the fact that these groups face disproportionate barriers to employment and education and are more likely to experience discrimination in the workplace. However, recent analysis from ONS highlights how varied unemployment rates are for Disabled and non-disabled people, when we also consider the intersection of ethnicity.  

ONS’s report emphasises how those with identities that overlap two or more protected characteristics – in other words, identities that are marginalised within society – are more likely to face inequalities. For example, experiencing medical racism in a health setting, whilst also being Disabled, will place additional barriers on you. Similarly, if you are facing both racial and ableist discrimination, it will be even more difficult to find or keep a job.  

ONS found that Disabled people from an ethnic minority background were far more likely to experience unemployment. Specifically - “Disabled adults across England and Wales who identified as ‘White: English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish or British’ were less likely to be unemployed than many non-disabled adults from other ethnic groups.” 

Alongside ethnicity, the analysis revealed that age and sex had the largest influence on differences in estimated unemployment rates compared with other factors such as place and highest level of education. This comes after research by TUC revealed last year that the pay gap for Disabled women is currently 30%.  

Bethany Bale, DR UK Employment Policy Officer, said “the findings from this analysis highlight the unacceptable and stagnant employment inequalities that exist in the UK, and emphasises the importance of taking an intersectional approach when tackling these inequalities. Disabled people of colour face disproportionate barriers to employment, but what’s most concerning is how little these numbers have changed over the years. It’s imperative that the Government prioritise supporting people into work, and remove barriers to employment, rather than putting their energy into penalising those who can’t work.”  

To read ONS’ publication in full, visit the ONS website.