BME employment has plummeted during pandemic

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Black and minority ethnic (BME) workers have been hit much harder by job losses during the pandemic than white workers, according to new TUC analysis.

The analysis found that BME employment has fallen by 5.3% over the last year - 26 times the rate for white workers, which was 0.2%.

Around 1 in 12 (8.5%) BME workers are now unemployed, compared with 1 in 22 (4.5%) of white workers.

The TUC has warned that the situation could get worse if employers and the government do not take action.

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.”

O’Grady said that the COVID-19 pandemic has held up a mirror to discrimination in the 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,” she said.

Research conducted by anti-racism advocacy group Hope Not Hate in August of 2020 found that 61% of British people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities think COVID-19 has exposed great inequality in British society.

This inequality has added to a broader discourse surrounding D&I’s focus in the workplace.

O’Grady also said that in some sectors like hospitality, retail and the arts, BME employment has plummeted.

The analysis found 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%).


Further reading

Antiracism taskforce launched to tackle COVID’s impact on BME workers

What employers can do for BAME employees as we head back to the office

HR and race in the workplace


According to the TUC the cost of falling employment to BME workers during the pandemic has been huge with many reporting increased levels of stress and anxiety.

The union body warned that without additional investment in jobs and social security in the next government Budget many BME workers’ job prospects could be scarred in the long term.

Chair of the TUC’s new anti-racism task force and NASUWT general secretary Patrick Roach said the report's findings showed disturbing evidence that black workers have lost their jobs at a far greater rate during the pandemic.

“This should be a wake-up call for the government,” he said.

“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.”

You can find the full report here.