Skip to content

Journal Article

Persisting disadvantages: a study of labour market dynamics of ethnic unemployment and earnings in the UK (2009–2015)


Publication date



This paper investigates the ethnic dynamics of unemployment and earnings in the UK. Drawing on data from the first six waves of Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study (2009–2014), the analysis shows that ethnic minority members, particularly black African, black Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi minorities, face much higher risks of unemployment and have much lower levels of earnings than do their white British counterparts over the life course. Ethnic minorities are not only more likely to face unemployment, previous experiences of unemployment also carry more enduring scars for them than for the majority group in terms of reemployment and pay. Even with similar levels of prior unemployment, ethnic minorities are more susceptible to delayed re-entry and wage penalties than are their white British peers. The life-course trajectories in unemployment and lower pay, coupled with unemployment scarring, suggest cumulative ethnic disadvantages in the UK.

Published in

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies

Volume and page numbers

46 , 857 -878





Labour Market, Unemployment, Wages And Earnings, Ethnic Groups, and Life Course Analysis


Open Access; This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.; Special Issue: Ethnic Diversity in the UK: new opportunities and changing constraints


Research home

Research home


Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest