Unemployment rate for BME workers rises 3x faster than unemployment rate for white workers, according to TUC analysis


TUC analysis of newly published ONS quarterly data has found that the rate of BME unemployment has risen at a distinctly faster pace than the unemployment rate for white workers. The analysis is based on comparisons from labour market data covering Q1 (January through March) of 2020 and the same time period for this year. 

From January through March last year, the estimated UK unemployment rate for all workers was 3.9 per cent. This was 0.1 percentage points higher than a year earlier (January through March 2019) and also 0.1 percentage points higher than the previous quarter (October through December 2019).

The unemployment rate for people from ‘BME’ backgrounds was 6.3 per cent which was noticeably higher than the national unemployment rate at the time. By comparison, the unemployment rate for white workers was 3.6 per cent which was lower than the national average.

12 months on and the UK unemployment rate stands at 4.8 per cent according to newly released data from the ONS today (Tuesday). This is a slight fall from figures recorded in the final three months of last year.

Based on TUC analysis, the latest figures show that the BME unemployment rate has risen from 6.3 per cent to 8.9 per cent when comparing the first three months of 2020 and 2021, a 41 per cent increase. By comparison, the unemployment rate for white workers has gone up from 3.6 per cent to 4.1 per cent, a 14 per cent increase. The latest figures mean that around 1 in 11 (8.9 per cent) BME workers are now unemployed, compared to 1 in 25 (4.1 per cent) of white workers. 

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady believes that the new figures highlight an uncomfortable truth that has been echoed here and elsewhere: that BME workers have “borne the brunt of the pandemic”. They are using the news to call on the government to create more than 1.2 million new jobs in ‘clean green infrastructure’. Crucially, they are also demanding that the government introduces mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting and makes employers publish action plans to secure fair wages for BME workers in the workplace. 

Equalities activists campaigning for a breakthrough on ethnicity pay gap reporting have recently expressed dissatisfaction over an inconsistency in messaging on the matter. They have also questioned the absence of ethnicity pay gap reporting from the CRED's recently released but heavily panned criticised race report.

You can read the TUC analysis, as well as their other recommendations here.

Mayowa Ayodele


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