New TUC analysis shows huge disparity in job losses between BME and white workers during Covid-19 outbreak
1 in 12 BME workers now unemployed, compared to 1 in 22 white counterparts
Black and minority ethnic (BME) workers have been hit much harder by job losses during the pandemic than white workers, according to stark new TUC analysis published today (Wednesday).
The analysis of official statistics reveals that BME employment has plummeted by 5.3% over the last year, compared to drop of 0.2% for white workers.
The TUC says that this fall in the rate of BME employment is 26 times the fall in the rate for white workers and is on course to get worse.
Around 1 in 12 (8.5%) BME workers are now unemployed, compared to 1 in 22 (4.5%) of white workers.
Unemployment by industry
The analysis shows how industries hit hardest by the pandemic – like hospitality and retail - have seen disproportionately large falls in the number of BME workers:
Accommodation and food: The number of BME workers in this sector has dropped by around a quarter (23%), compared to a fall of 13% for white workers.
Wholesale and retail: The number of BME workers in the industry has fallen by 16%, more than twice the fall in the number of white workers (7%).
The analysis also reveals that the number of BME men working in manufacturing has fallen by a quarter (23%) and the number of BME women working in arts and entertainment has nose-dived by over two-fifths (44%).
The TUC says the cost of falling employment to BME workers during the pandemic has been huge with many reporting increased levels of stress and anxiety.
And the union body warned that without additional investment in jobs and social security at next month’s Budget many BME workers’ job prospects could be scarred in the long term.
Exceeding worse-case scenarios
The Office for Budget Responsibility has forecast that the unemployment rate for all workers will peak at 7.5% in the second quarter of 2021.
But today’s analysis reveals that the number of BME people out of work is already at 8.5%, compared to 4.5% for white people.
Previous TUC analysis has found that BME people are far more likely to be in insecure work with fewer employment rights. And are more likely to work in jobs with higher coronavirus mortality rates than white people, such as security guards, carers, nurses and drivers.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “BME workers have borne the brunt of the economic impact of this pandemic. In every industry where jobs have gone, BME people have been more likely to be made unemployed.
“In some sectors like hospitality, retail and the arts, BME employment has literally plummeted.
“And when BME workers have held on to their jobs, we know that they are more likely to be working in low-paid, insecure jobs that put them at greater risk from the virus.
“This pandemic has held up a mirror to discrimination in our labour market.
“The time for excuses and delays is over. Ministers must challenge the systemic racism and inequality that holds back BME people at work.”
Chair of the TUC’s new anti-racism task force and NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: "This disturbing evidence showing that Black workers have lost their jobs at a far greater rate during the Covid-19 pandemic should be a wake-up call for the government.
“We have seen evidence of widening inequality during the pandemic - both because of the virus and because of the impact of the government’s emergency measures. During previous economic downturns, BME workers have been “first-out and last-in”. The government needs to address the causes and effects of structural racism and set out a national recovery plan that works for everyone.
"The trade union movement is stepping up to challenge racial injustice in the workplace. The TUC's antiracism taskforce invites the government to work with trade unions to tackle the underlying causes of racial disparities in employment."
Government and employers must act
The TUC is calling on government to act now and carry out a review into racism at work in the UK.
The union body is also asking government to:
Introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting and make employers publish action plans to ensure fair treatment 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
- The report is available at https://www.tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/reports/jobs-and-recession-monitor-bme-workers
- The TUC has launched an anti-racism task force, chaired by NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach, to tackle the structural racism with the labour market – and wider society. The task force will lead the trade union movement’s renewed campaign against racism at work. It will engage with Black workers across the UK to hear about their experiences. And it will produce recommendations on tackling structural racism in the UK, in workplaces and in unions themselves. To read Dr Patrick Roach’s blog about the purpose and aims of the TUC’s anti-racism task force please visit: www.tuc.org.uk/blogs/change-coming-why-im-chairing-tucs-new-anti-racism-task-force
- Previous TUC analysis revealed that BME people are far more likely to be in jobs with higher coronavirus mortality rates than white people, such as security guards, carers, nurses and drivers: www.tuc.org.uk/news/bme-workers-have-been-asked-shoulder-more-risk-during-pandemic-says-tuc
- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.
TUC press office
020 7467 1248
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