Ethnicity pay gap the lowest it has been since 2012

13 October 2020

The Office for National Statistics (ONS), in its latest release, has highlighted the fact that the pay gap between white and ethnic minority staff in England and Wales has fallen to its lowest level since consistent record keeping began back in 2012.

Median hourly earnings in 2019 for white workers were £12.40 per hour, which is approximately 2% higher than the amount received per hour by ethnic minority workers, who were paid £12.11 per hour. This is a substantial decrease in the gap, which has historically exceeded 8%.

There are, however, higher pay gaps observed for four groups of ethnic minority employees, as follows:

  • 16% for employees of Pakistani descent
  • 15% for white and black African employees
  • 15% for Bangladeshi employees
  • 13% for white and black Caribbean employees

Conversely, the ONS data reveals that there are some ethnic groups who have consistently earned more than the amounts received by white workers since 2012. For example, in 2019, median hourly earnings for individuals of white Irish ethnicity were 40.5% higher than those for other white employees, at £17.55. Employees of Chinese ethnicity earned 23.1% more, at £15.38 per hour and workers of Indian descent received £14.43 an hour.

When discussed in terms of gender, the ONS confirmed that ethnic minority men earned approximately 6.1% less than white men, but that ethnic minority women earned 2.1% more than white women. This seems to suggest that gender has a bearing on the ethnicity pay gap.

The age groups of individuals also affected ethnicity pay gaps. Individuals in the ethnic minority group between the ages of 16-29 appear to earn more than people of the same age of white ethnicities. This tends to change for those who are aged 30 years or over, as those in ethnic minority seem to earn less than those of white ethnicities at this point. The pay gap of 16% for employees of Pakistani descent aged over 30 reduced to 2% in those aged between 16 and 29. Chinese-ethnicity employees below the age of 30 commanded 46% more than the average white employee, in comparison with 19% more for employees aged over 30.

The ONS confirmed that, when factors including age, sex, marital status, children, qualifications, country of birth and location of employees are considered, the gap appears to narrow for many ethnic groups.


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