Ethnic and religious minorities face higher levels of unemployment and other social deprivations than their white counterparts, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In both the 16-24 and 25-39 age groups, unemployment rates among UK-born black, Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnic groups were more than twice as high as white Britons, data for England and Wales revealed.

Unemployment was higher among Muslims than any other religious group and when they did find jobs they had the fewest proportion of workers in managerial and professional positions.

When researchers looked at Great Britain as a whole, they found a third of Muslim households with dependent children had no working adult compared to fewer than one in seven (15 per cent) Christian homes.

The findings, based on analysis of the 2001 Census, examine the key demographic, geographic, household and labour market differences between the main ethnic and religious groups.

The London borough of Brent was found to be the most ethnically diverse local authority area, while the neighbouring area of Harrow had the highest religious diversity, according to data for England and Wales.

Brent came top after researchers calculated the likelihood of two people, picked at random from the borough, belonging to different ethnic groups - 85 per cent.

For Easington in the North East - the least ethnically diverse local authority area - the percentage was 2 per cent.

The ONS report found black African Muslim men and women had the highest unemployment rate in 2001 - 28 per cent and 31 per cent respectively, in England and Wales.

Unemployment rates among Indian Muslims was lower at 11 per cent for men and 12 per cent for women.

Joy Dobbs, a divisional director for social and health analysis and reporting at the ONS, said: "Black African Muslims have three times the unemployment rate of other Muslims and that's a very significant difference."