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New TUC analysis finds BME workers are more likely to be unemployed than white workers
  • BME women bear the brunt of this with an unemployment rate nearly 3 times that of white men 

  • Union body calls for action on structural racism in the jobs market 

New analysis by the TUC published today (Friday) reveals the unemployment rate for Black, minority and ethnic (BME) workers is currently more than double (2.2 times) that of white workers. 

Analysis of the most recent ONS labour market statistics – produced as the TUC’s Black workers’ conference starts in London today – reveals that the BME unemployment rate stood at 6.9% in 2022, compared to 3.2% for white workers.  

BME women hardest hit 

The analysis shows BME women face an even bigger penalty with an unemployment rate nearly three (2.9) times higher than white women. 

The unemployment rate for BME women is 8.1%, compared to 2.8% for white women. 

The TUC says the situation is worse now than in 2008 when the unemployment rate for BME women was 2.3 times higher than for white women. 

Government action needed 

The TUC is calling for an end to the structural discrimination and inequalities that hold BME people back at work. 

The union body wants ministers to act to improve the experience of BME workers at work, including:   

  • Introducing mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting. Business and unions are united in their support for compulsory ethnicity pay gap monitoring. Alongside publishing the raw data, every employer must publish an action plan setting out how they will close their pay gap and ensure pay parity between Black and white workers. 

  • Getting rid of insecure work. BME workers are significantly more likely to experience insecure and poor-quality work. Raising the floor of rights for everyone – by, for example, banning zero-hours contracts – will disproportionately benefit BME workers. Reversing outsourcing, introducing fair pay agreements across the economy and giving workers the right to access their union on-site would also improve rights for all. 

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said: “It’s not right that the unemployment rate is more than twice as high for BME workers as their white peers. 

“There’s no hiding from the fact that racism still plays a huge part in our jobs market. 

“Ministers must take bold action to confront this inequality. The obvious first step is forcing bigger companies to disclose their ethnicity pay gaps. This will make employers confront the inequalities in their own workforces – and act to fix them.  

“Business and unions are united in their support for compulsory pay gap monitoring. Ministers must bring it in without delay.” 

TUC Black workers’ conference 

TUC Black workers’ conference is one of the biggest gatherings of Black workers in the UK, bringing together hundreds of Black workers from across the UK and from every sector of the economy. This year, US trade unionist Chris Smalls – known for his organising work with Amazon – will be speaking, alongside TUC general secretary Paul Nowak. 

Items for debate include racism and inequality, the cost-of-living crisis, ethnicity pay gap reporting, and migrant workers and immigration. 

Editors note




How many times worse for BME workers? 

White Women 

BME Women 

How many times worse for BME women? 

White Men 

BME Men 

How many times worse for BME men? 


Unemployment rate, 16+ 










Number unemployed, 16+ 











Unemployment rate, 16+ 










Number unemployed, 16+ 










Source: ONS Labour Force Survey 

- The TUC’s Black workers’ conference is from today (Friday) until Sunday (28 May) at Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS.  
- TUC ethnicity pay gap: Information about the TUC’s pay gaps is available at: 
- About the TUC: The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together the 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. 

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