BLACK and minority ethnic (BME) unemployment is rising six times as fast as the rate for white workers in the West Midlands, according to new analysis from the Trades Union Congress (TUC).
The TUC has called on the government to tackle structural discrimination in the job market after Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures revealed that in the West Midlands, the BME unemployment rate rocketed from 5.5 per cent to 12.1 per cent between the final quarter of 2019 and the final quarter of 2020.
Over the same period, the white unemployment rate increased from 4.1 per cent to 4.9 per cent. That means one in eight BME workers in the West Midlands are now unemployed, compared to one in 25 white workers.
Nationally, the BME unemployment rate rose from 5.8 per cent to 9.5 per cent, while the rate for white workers rose from 3.4 per cent to 4.5 per cent.
The TUC suggests the West Midlands may have seen such a high increase in BME unemployment because of a higher concentration in the region of the kinds of jobs that BME people often do, and that have been lost in the pandemic – like retail and hospitality.
TUC Regional Secretary Lee Barron said: “Everyone deserves a decent and secure job. But Covid-19 has held a mirror up to the discrimination in our labour market.
“BME workers in the West Midlands have really felt the impact of the pandemic. They’ve been more likely to have lost their jobs – working in industries like hospitality and retail that have been hit hard by unemployment.
“When they’ve kept their jobs, we know that they are more likely to be in insecure and low-paid work that has put them at greater risk from the virus. Many have paid with their lives.
“This crisis must be a turning point. Ministers must hold down unemployment, create good new jobs and challenge the systematic discrimination that holds BME workers back.”
The TUC is calling on government to create good new jobs, introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting, make employers ensure fair wages for BME workers, ban zero-hours contracts, strengthen the rights of insecure workers, publish equality impact assessments related to its response to Covid-19, be transparent about how it considers BME communities in policy decisions, and give more financial support for people who have lost their jobs.