The unemployment rate for BME employees has risen by 41 per cent to 8.9 per cent overall over the past year. 

A new analysis by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) reveals that unemployment among BME (Black, Minority Ethnic) workers has been rising at three times the rate of their white counterparts.

Based on new ONS statistics released, the BME unemployment rate has increased by 41 per cent to 8.9 per cent over the last year – compared to a 14 per cent increase in the white unemployment rate to 4.1 per cent.

In particular, BME women saw a large decrease in the number of people from this group in employment. The unemployment rate for January-March 2021 reached 10 per cent compared to 6.8 per cent a year prior.

This means that one in every 11 BME people are now unemployed compared to just one in 25 white workers.

In light of this, the TUC have called on the Government to tackle structural discrimination within the labour market.

The TUC is calling on government to implement measures such as:

  • Creating good new jobs – The union argues that 1.2 million new jobs could be created in the next two years in clean green infrastructure, and by unlocking public sector vacancies.
  • Introducing mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting and making employers publish action plans to ensure fair wages for BME workers in the workplace.
  • Banning zero-hours contracts and strengthening the rights of insecure workers – This, the union argues, had had a disproportionate impact on BME workers.
  • Publishing all the equality impact assessments related to its response to Covid-19 and being transparent about how it considers BME communities in policy decisions.
  • Offering more financial support to people who have lost their jobs. 

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

Everyone deserves a decent and secure job. But Covid-19 has shone a light on the discrimination in our labour market.

BME workers have borne the brunt of the pandemic. They’ve been more likely to work in industries like hospitality and retail that have been hit hard by unemployment.

And when BME workers have held on to their jobs, we know that they are more likely to be in low-paid, insecure work that has put them at greater risk from the virus. This structural discrimination has led to a disproportionate BME death rate from coronavirus.

Now we are emerging from the pandemic, we can’t allow these inequalities. Ministers must hold down unemployment, create good new jobs and challenge the systematic discrimination that holds BME workers back.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.