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Key points

  • Despite unemployment being lower than in 2017, differences between some groups remain wide
  • Younger age groups are generally more likely to experience unemployment, as highlighted in the data for both 2017 and 2022.
  • Adults from Pakistani/Bangladeshi, black and mixed ethnicity backgrounds are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as white adults. 
  • The unemployment rate for men is slightly higher than for women.
  • There are big differences in unemployment rates between UK regions and nations. The highest unemployment rates in 2022 were in the North East and West Midlands, while the lowest was in the South West.

Unemployment can affect people’s health in several ways: it can act as a source of stress, and deprive people of income and social networks. 

This chart shows the proportion of UK adults aged 16–64 who reported they were unemployed in 2017 and 2022. The data are split by ethnicity, age, sex and region. 

  • Younger age groups are generally more likely to experience unemployment. 16% of 16 to 19-year-olds and 8% of 20 to 24-year-olds are unemployed, compared with 3.1% of people aged 25 to 34 years. 
  • Unemployment is higher for every minority ethnic group compared to white working-age adults. In 2022 the unemployment rate ranged from 3.1% for white adults, to 8.5% for Pakistani/Bangladeshi people. The unemployment rate for black adults was more than two times higher than for white adults.
  • There are large differences in unemployment rates between regions. In 2022, unemployment rates varied between 4.7% in the North East and West Midlands  and 2.7% in the South West.
  • There is a small difference in unemployment rates between men and women: 3.7% of men are unemployed compared with 3.5% of women.
  • Unemployment is defined – in line with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) definition – as people 16+ actively seeking and being available for work. 

Source: Health Foundation analysis of Office for National Statistics, Annual Population Survey, UK, 2017 and 2022

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