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BME unemployment rising three times as fast as white unemployment

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Written by: Emma Lunn
18/05/2021
Analysis of today’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) jobs figures by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) show the black and minority ethnic (BME) unemployment rate has increased by 41% from 6.3% to 8.9% over the past year.

This is in comparison to a 14% increase in the white unemployment rate to from 3.6% to 4.1%, meaning the BME unemployment rate has increased three times as fast. As a result, the TUC is calling on ministers to act to tackle structural discrimination in jobs market.

About one in 11 (8.9%) BME workers are currently unemployed, compared to one in 25 (4.1%) white workers.

Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said: “Everyone deserves a decent and secure job. But Covid-19 has shone a light on the discrimination in our labour market.

“BME workers have borne the brunt of the pandemic. They’ve been more likely to work in industries like hospitality and retail that have been hit hard by unemployment.

“And when BME workers have held on to their jobs, we know that they are more likely to be in low-paid, insecure work that has put them at greater risk from the virus. This structural discrimination has led to a disproportionate BME death rate from coronavirus.

“Now we are emerging from the pandemic, we can’t allow these inequalities. Ministers must hold down unemployment, create good new jobs and challenge the systematic discrimination that holds BME workers back.”

The TUC is calling on government to introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting and make employers publish action plans to ensure fair wages for BME workers in the workplace. It also wants to see a ban on zero-hours contracts and strengthen the rights of insecure workers – which will have a disproportionate impact on BME workers.

The union body is also calling on the government to publish all the equality impact assessments related to its response to Covid-19 and be transparent about how it considers BME communities in policy decisions.

Finally, the TUC is demanding more financial support for people who have lost their jobs, saying that without a boost to Universal Credit, many will be pushed into poverty.

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