Last reviewed 17 May 2022

New analysis by the TUC has revealed that the unemployment rate for BME workers (7.7%) is more than double that of their white counterparts (3.5%) with the gap having widened significantly since the start of the pandemic.

With the employment rate for BME workers recovering at a slower rate than that of white workers, the research shows that the unemployment gap is now the widest it has been since 2008.

The TUC also discovered that the unemployment rate for BME workers is now 33% higher than it was pre-pandemic while, for white workers, the increase is 2%.

Arguing that the pandemic held up a mirror to discrimination in the labour market, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “BME workers bore the brunt of the economic impact of the pandemic. In every industry where jobs were lost to the impact of Covid, BME workers were more likely to have been made unemployed.”

The data shows that BME workers, who were disproportionately impacted through the pandemic by Covid-related job losses, are now significantly more likely to be trapped in unemployment than their white counterparts, she went on.

The TUC is calling on employers to establish a comprehensive ethnic monitoring system covering ethnicity pay gap reporting, recruitment, retention, promotion, pay and grading, access to training, performance management, and discipline and grievance procedures.

It also wants the Government and public authorities to introduce race equality requirements into public sector contracts for the supply of goods and services. Companies that do not meet the requirements should not be awarded a public contract, the TUC insists.

Comment by Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula

Businesses can successfully leverage the benefits associated with positive action tools within their recruitment strategies.

Examples of positive action include: putting statements in job adverts to encourage applicants from ethnic minority backgrounds; offering training to help BME employees get opportunities or progress at work; offering mentoring to groups with particular needs; or hosting open days specifically tailored towards BME workers, to encourage individuals to get into a particular field.