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Unemployment rising twice as fast among black workers, TUC report finds

UNEMPLOYMENT is rising twice as fast among black workers when compared with their white counterparts, a shocking TUC report said today.

Analysis of government statistics by the union body shows that joblessness among ethnic-minority workers has shot up by nearly two-thirds in the last year, from 5.8 per cent to 9.5 per cent. Among white workers, it rose by a third, to 4.5 per cent.

The Office for Budget Responsibility forecast that unemployment among all workers would peak at 7.5 per cent in the second quarter of this year.

But among Black African and Caribbean workers it has already reached 13.8 per cent, and one in 10 black and ethnic-minority women is now unemployed. 

TUC leaders added their voices to a call from charities and community campaigners to demand that the government fulfil its pledge to tackle structural racism and inequality.

It also warned against pitching workers against each other.

A statement signed, by prominent figures including Baroness Doreen Lawrence and Runnymede Trust director Dr Halima Begum calls on the Sewell commission on race and ethnic disparities to publish its twice-delayed report on structural racism.

Demanding that ministers stop delaying the report, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This pandemic has held up a mirror to the structural racism in our labour market and wider society.  

“This crisis has to be a turning point. As we emerge from the pandemic, we can’t allow these inequalities in our workplaces — and our society — to remain.”

Statement signatory Lord Simon Woolley, former chair of the government’s racial disparity unit, said: “The government must stop pitting poor black people against poor white people – and effectively deal with systemic race inequality.” 

Teachers’ union NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach, who leads the TUC’s anti-racism task force, said: “A national plan to tackle racial disparities in employment and in the labour market must also address the root causes and confront them head-on.”

Black Activists Rising Against Cuts’ (Barac) national chairwoman Zita Holbourne said: “When black people lose their jobs it takes longer for them to find new employment due to the existing institutional racism in the labour market.

“Employers are fast to declare that black lives matter in a tokenistic way but slow at best or non-existent at worse to put this in practice...

“If black lives truly matter urgent action must be taken to reverse this situation, we need to see zero-Covid and zero racism.”

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