Unemployment among young black workers is three times worse than for white workers of the same age, according to analysis of official data by the Guardian.
The rate of unemployment among 16 to 24-year-old black people was 41.6% between October and December 2020, the highest rate since the financial crisis and the same level as it was at the time of the Brixton riots 40 years ago.
Race and the labour market
The newspaper analysed Office for National Statistics data and found that the rate of unemployment for white people in the same age bracket was 12.4%. Prior to the pandemic (January to March 2020), 10.6% of young white people were unemployed compared with 25.3% of young black people.
Between March and December, the rate of unemployment growth shot up for young black people (64.4%), and grew significantly but less alarmingly for their white counterparts (17%).
The analysis comes in the wake of a much-derided report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities that appeared to gloss over issues of race in society in the workplace.
The report was accused of emphasising the UK’s achievements in racial equality, suggesting that accusations of institutional racism were false, despite evidence to the contrary in many areas.
At the time, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady highlighted that “black and minority ethnic workers are far more likely than white workers to be in low-paid, insecure jobs – such as temporary and agency jobs or zero hours contracts”.
Halima Begum, director of the Runnymede Trust and one of the key critics of the Commission’s report at the start of April, said the Guardian’s findings confirmed the pandemic had had “a disproportionate impact on our black and ethnic minority communities”.
She urged the government to take concrete steps to tackle “employment fragility” in ethnic minority communities.
According to ONS data, the overall unemployment rate for black workers was 7.6% between October and December 2020, compared to 4.5% for white workers.