Black and minority ethnic unemployment rising three times faster than white unemployment in North West

workers walking down a street from PA
Credit: PA Images

The unemployment rate for Black and minority ethnic (BME) workers in the North West has risen three times as fast as the unemployment rate for white workers, according to TUC analysis of new ONS employment figures.

The BME unemployment rate in the North West increased from 5.5% to 7.6% last year. Over the same period, the white unemployment rate increased from 4.0% to 4.5%.

It means 1 in 13 BME people in the region are now unemployed, compared to 1 in 22 white workers.

Nationally, the BME unemployment rate shot up from 5.8% to 9.5%, while the unemployment rate for white workers rose from 3.4% to 4.5%.

The TUC suggests the North West may have seen such a high increase in black and minority ethnic unemployment because of a higher concentration in the region of the kinds of jobs that BME people often do, and that have been lost in the pandemic - like retail and hospitality.

TUC Regional Secretary Lynn Collins said: "Everyone deserves a decent and secure job. But Covid-19 has held a mirror up to the discrimination in our labour market.

"BME workers in the North West have really felt the impact of the pandemic. They've been more likely to have lost their jobs - working in industries like hospitality and retail that have been hit hard by unemployment.

"When they've kept their jobs, we know that they are more likely to be in insecure and low-paid work that has put them at greater risk from the virus. Many have paid with their lives.

"This crisis must be a turning point. 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 analysis is published today (Monday) as the TUC takes part in a week of campaigning on racial equality to mark the first anniversary of George Floyd's murder.