During the global COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent unemployment crisis, it has been widely reported that 16-25-year-olds are among the worst affected age group. This is because young people are much more likely to work in industries shut down during lockdown periods. However, these reports fail to recognise that among the age group 16-25, there is a significant difference in unemployment rates between different ethnic backgrounds.
What Information Do We Have?
A recent BBC news article stated that the unemployment rate for young black people rose by nearly 35% over the last year. This is a shocking figure and is significantly higher than the 13% increase in the unemployment rate of white young people and a 24% increase for Asian young people.
This data shows the disproportionate effect the pandemic has had on young black people across the UK, with many three times more likely to lose their jobs than their white counterparts.
Racism and discrimination in the workplace are not new occurrences, and there has always been a gap between the employment rates of BAME people and white people in the UK. However, The Resolution Foundation has said that Covid has played a massive role in widening existing gaps between ethnic groups. This worrying information suggests that the pandemic may be contributing to a reversal of racial equality in the UK, particularly concerning the jobs market.
Unemployment Rates and Education
Many people cite educational imbalance as the reason for this employment gap between different ethnicities, suggesting that young black people are less likely to find employment because they do not have the same access to education. However, this recent Resolution Foundation report suggested this was not the case, as even black graduates were significantly affected by the pandemic. Over one in three black graduates were unemployed for the second half of 2020, nearly three times more than young white graduates.
What are the Reasons for This Disproportionate Employment Rate?
As well as discussing factors such as education, many people have begun to speculate on the reasons behind the high unemployment rates for young black people in the UK:
– Institutional racism plays a prominent role in these figures and suggests that even in 2021, black people are less likely to be hired for a job they are qualified for than a white person. With increased competition for jobs due to the pandemic, many experts believe this racial discrimination will have worsened.
– Black people are more likely to work in sectors disproportionally affected by Covid-19, such as leisure, hospitality and tourism. This means they are more likely than their white counterparts to have lost their job due to the pandemic and may have struggled to find another. Data from the Resolution Foundation also shows that many young black people who did lose their jobs could only find part-time work, which is not sustainable to live off.
– Some people have also suggested that the disproportionate health outcomes of Covid-19 on BAME communities may have also contributed to these unemployment figures.
If you identify as BAME, you can learn more about the BAME employment gap or view our page on BAME jobs.