Bleak jobs future for young black workers

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date: 8 April 2011

embargo: For immediate release

Black and asian workers are almost twice as likely to be out of work as white workers, and public sector spending cuts could see thousands more employees from ethnic minority backgrounds losing their jobs in the coming months, says the TUC today (Friday).

The TUC analysis of the Labour Force Survey coincides with its annual Black Workers' Conference which opens this afternoon. The figures show that the unemployment rate for black and asian workers increased from 10.2 per cent in October-December 2007 to 13 per cent in the same quarter last year (a figure almost twice as high as the 7.1 per cent unemployment rate for white individuals).

The research reveals an even bleaker picture for young people from ethnic minority backgrounds, with the unemployment rate for 18-24 year-olds leaping from 20.1 per cent in 2007 to 30.5 per cent in 2010. In contrast, the unemployment rate for white youngsters stands at 16.4 per cent.

And while there are still more black young men out of work that women - at the end of 2010 there were almost 63,000 young males without jobs compared to just over 53,000 young women - the rate of increase in unemployment over the three years since 2007 has been a shocking 68 per cent for young black women, with a 24 per cent increase for men.

The figures also show that around 640,000 black and Asian people work in the public sector, so significant cuts to public spending will only make the situation worse, says the TUC. It estimates that public sector job cuts of around 20 per cent would be likely to put around another 127,000 black workers on the dole.

Addressing the several hundred delegates attending the conference at Congress House, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber will say: 'Black workers are bearing the brunt of Britain's jobs crisis. It's a truly desperate situation, with the unemployment rate for workers from ethnic minority backgrounds almost twice the level for white workers.

'It gets even worse for black youngsters - almost one in three are without work. That's not just a terrible waste of talent, but evidence of persistent discrimination within the labour market.

'Around 640,000 black people are employed in our public services, and with redundancies there now coming through thick and fast, and access routes to further and higher education being closed off, these figures are set to get even worse.

'So whether it's the mass cull of public sector jobs, huge cuts to welfare, changes to housing benefit, the scrapping of education maintenance allowances, the trebling of student tuition fees, or the hike in VAT, the evidence is clear - black people will pay a very heavy price for this government's policies. Inequality will rise, poverty will increase, and social mobility - to the extent it exists any more - will be further undermined.'

Delegates attending the conference which opens at 2pm today (Friday) and closes on Sunday afternoon will debate a number of motions including those on the impact of the cuts, NHS re-organisation, countering the influence of the English Defence League and the British National Party, the reporting of immigration stories in the media and slavery in the modern world.

In addition to Brendan Barber, speakers over the two days include Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, TUC President Michael Leahy, and Professor Gus John, Visiting Professor of Education at the University of Strathclyde. There will also be a number of workshops on the cuts in education and the voluntary sector, the Equality Act and how unions can attract and organise black workers.


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Media enquiries:
Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248 M: 07778 158175 E: [email protected]
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: [email protected]

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