BME unemployment is rising

The unemployment rate for Black and minority ethnic (BME) workers has risen at three times the speed of the unemployment rate for white workers, according to TUC analysis of new ONS employment figures published Tuesday 18th May 2021.

  • TUC analysis of the ONS figures show BME unemployment rate has increased by 41% to 8.9% over the last year – compared to a 14% increase in the white unemployment rate to 4.1%
  • 1 in 11 BME people are now unemployed
  • Union body calls on ministers to act to tackle structural discrimination in jobs market

The analysis reveals that: 

  • The BME unemployment rate shot up from 6.3% to 8.9% between the first quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021, an increase of 41%.
  • Over the same period the unemployment rate for white workers rose from 3.6% to 4.1%, an increase of 14%.
  • Around 1 in 11 (8.9%) BME workers are now unemployed, compared to 1 in 25 (4.1%) of white workers.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady 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: 

  • Create good new jobs. We could create 1.2 million new jobs in the next two years in clean green infrastructure, and by unlocking public sector vacancies. 
  • Introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting and make employers publish action plans to ensure fair wages for BME workers in the workplace. 
  • Ban zero-hours contracts and strengthen the rights of insecure workers – which will have a disproportionate impact on BME workers. 
  • 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. 
  • Give more financial support for people who have lost their jobs. Without a boost to universal credit, many will be pushed into poverty. 

The TUC analysis is based on labour market statistics from the ONS which are available at:

PAYadvice.UK 19/5/2021

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