Individuals under BME umbrella term see unemployment rise three times faster than white counterparts


The unemployment rate for individuals termed as 'BME' workers has risen at three times the speed of the rate for white workers according to the TUC. The conclusion is drawn from the latest round of unemployment figures from the ONS.

'We can't allow inequalities in our job market to continue' 

Unemployment for individuals termed as 'BME' workers has risen from 6.1% to 8% - a 31% increase. This is compared to the change from 3.6% to 4% for white workers - an 11% increase. For the TUC Secretary General Frances O'Grady, it is yet more evidence of an unequal pandemic. It comes months after the TUC's comparison of labour market figures from January through March 2021 and the same period last year drew almost identical headlines.

“BME workers have borne the brunt of the pandemic. They’ve been more likely to be in low-paid, insecure work and have been put at greater risk from the virus. They’ve also been more likely to work in industries that have been hit hard by unemployment, like hospitality and retail.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, we can’t allow these inequalities in our jobs market to continue. Ministers must take decisive action to hold down unemployment, create good new jobs and challenge the discrimination that holds BME workers back." 

The TUC are calling for the creation of new jobs and a renewed effort to challenge work place discrimination.

Decline in workers on Zero hour contracts 

The new figures also show a fall in the number of people on zero-hour contracts from April through June. 1.08 million people had been on zero-hour contracts heading into April compared to 917,000 in June. Zero hour contracts have long been a source of contention between those who tout the flexibility they provide, particularly to those aged 16 to 24, and those who are well aware of their potential to trap the most vulnerable in insecure, low-paying labour.

Workers across the labour market have been affected by the pandemic, but there have been warnings about the hazards that people on zero-hour contracts have faced. These have ranged from threats to employment rights violations to a reduced probability of receiving sick pay, both of which have prompted questions about its role in a post-pandemic economy. The TUC are calling for the government to impose a ban on zero-hour contracts.

“It’s shocking that there are still just under a million people on zero hours contracts. Many of these are the key workers who worked through Covid-19, but still face the uncertainty of not knowing when their next shift will be. And we know BME women are twice as likely to be on these low-paid, insecure contracts than white men. Insecure workers have been most likely to lose their jobs during the pandemic, but the use of these contracts remains stubbornly high. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect at work. Government must ban zero-hours contracts now.”

Frances O'Grady

Mayowa Ayodele