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Racial Inequalities In The Labour Market

With unemployment rising, it’s important to note the disparities in the unemployment rate by ethnicity. Unemployment is expected to continue to rise, with the OBR forecasting the unemployment rate to peak at 7.5 per cent next year[1]. The BME unemployment rate is already above this, and was close to it before the pandemic hit. In Q3 2019[2], the unemployment rate for white people was 3.6 per cent, while the BME unemployment rate was 7.0 per cent. A year later, this has grown to 4.5 per cent for white people and 8.5 per cent for BME people.

Racial inequalities intersect with gender inequalities, with BME women having both the highest rate of unemployment (8.8 per cent) and the lowest rate of employment (62.5 per cent).

Employment and unemployment rates by ethnicity and gender:

The BME unemployment rate varies by region, but in every region, it is higher than the unemployment rate for white people. Yorkshire and Humberside and the North West have the highest rates (13.3 per cent and 12.1 per cent respectively).

We reiterate our calls made in that report and call on government to:

1) Publish an action plan to tackle the inequalities that BME people face, including in work, health, education and justice.

2) Introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting and make employers publish action plans to ensure fair treatment for BME workers in the workplace.

3) Ban zero-hours contracts, and strengthen the rights of insecure workers.

4) Publish all the equality impact assessments related to its response to Covid-19 and be fully transparent about how it considers BME communities in its policy decisions.

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Image by Larry Crayton


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