THE LATEST EMPLOYMENT FIGURES, published on 17 August 2021, show that over the last year the unemployment rate for Black and minority ethnic (BME) workers has risen from 6.1 to 8 per cent (1.9 percentage points or a 31 per cent increase).
This is three times the speed of the rise in the unemployment rate for white workers, which has risen from 3.6 to four per cent (0.4 percentage points or an 11 per cent increase).
Commenting on the figures, Trades Union Congress (TUC) General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “BME workers have borne the brunt of the pandemic. They’ve been more likely to be in low-paid, insecure work and have been put at greater risk from the virus. They’ve also been more likely to work in industries that have been hit hard by unemployment, like hospitality and retail.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, we can’t allow these inequalities in our jobs market to continue. Ministers must take decisive action to hold down unemployment, create good new jobs and challenge the discrimination that holds BME workers back.
“And our recovery is still fragile, with more than a million workers on furlough. Instead of pulling the rug out from under the feet of businesses and workers, the chancellor must extend the furlough scheme for as long as is needed to protect jobs and livelihoods – and work towards setting up a permanent short-time work scheme to deal with future crises.”
Commenting on ONS figures which also show the number of people on zero-hours contracts has fallen slightly from 1.08 million in April-June 2020 to 917,000 in April-June 2021, Frances O’Grady said: “It’s shocking that there are still just under a million people on zero hours contracts. Many of these are the key workers who worked through Covid-19, but still face the uncertainty of not knowing when their next shift will be. And we know BME women are twice as likely to be on these low-paid, insecure contracts than white men.
“Insecure workers have been most likely to lose their jobs during the pandemic, but the use of these contracts remains stubbornly high. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect at work. Government must ban zero-hours contracts now.”
* Read Labour market overview, UK: August 2021 here.
* Source: Trades Union Congress