UK Ethnic Pay Gap Revealed: Chinese Earn the Most


July 2019

UK Ethnic Pay Gap Revealed: Chinese Earn the Most

Chinese workers in the UK get paid the most on average of any ethnic group, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The latest data from the ONS on the ethnicity pay gap has revealed that workers from both the Chinese and Indian ethnic groups earn more on average than their white British counterparts. However, every other ethnic group was recorded to have lower average earnings than white British people, with Bangladeshi workers earning the lowest. Overall, ethnic minority workers in the UK earn 3.8% less on average than those from white ethnic groups.

“Overall, employees from certain ethnic groups such as Indian and Chinese, have higher average earnings than their white British counterparts,” said Hugh Stickland, senior analyst at the ONS. “However, all other ethnic groups have average wages lower than for white British employees, with employees from the Bangladeshi ethnic group having the largest pay gap. However, once characteristics such as education and occupation are taken into account, the pay gap between white British and most other ethnic groups becomes narrower, though significant differences still remain.”

The data was based on median hourly earnings between 2012 and 2018 and revealed that ethnic Chinese employees earned a median wage of £15.75 an hour last year, 30.9% more on average than white British workers who earned £12.03 per hour. The Indian ethnic group earned a median wage of £13.47 an hour in 2018, while people from a mixed or multiple ethnic background earned £12.33.

The Bangladeshi ethnic group earned the lowest at £9.60 an hour – 20.1% less than the average white British worker and just over a pound higher than the national minimum wage. Meanwhile, second bottom on the list were workers of Pakistani origin who were paid a median wage of £10 per hour. Black British workers or those of African or Caribbean descent earned a median wage of £10.92 an hour.

“The harsh reality is that even today race still plays a real role in determining pay,” said Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the British Trade Union Congress. “This problem isn’t simply going to disappear over time. Ministers must take bold action to confront inequality and racism in the labour market. The obvious first step is to introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting without delay.”

Regionally, London was revealed to have the widest ethnic pay gap with people from ethnic backgrounds earning over a fifth less than white British workers in the capital. On the other hand, ethnic workers earned 6.5% more on average than white British employees in the North East of England, and 6.5% more in Eastern England.

“We need to stamp out all employment inequality,” said the employment minister, Alok Sharma. “That is why we continue to challenge employers to explain or change the disadvantages highlighted in our race disparity audit.”