TUC analysis finds BME workers are more likely to be unemployed than white workers

  • 26 May 2023

Black and minority ethnic women bear the brunt of this with an unemployment rate nearly three times that of white men. 

The unemployment rate for black, minority and ethnic workers is currently more than double (2.2 times) that of white workers. 

Analysis of the most recent ONS labour market statistics – produced as the TUC’s Black workers’ conference starts in London today – reveals that the BME unemployment rate stood at 6.9 per cent in 2022, compared to 3.2 per cent for white workers.  

Women hardest hit 

The analysis shows black and minority ethnic women face an even bigger penalty with an unemployment rate nearly three (2.9) times higher than white women. Their unemployment rate for is 8.1 per cent, compared to 2.8 per cent for white women.  The TUC says the situation is worse now than in 2008 when the unemployment rate for these women was 2.3 times higher than for white women. 

Government action needed 

The TUC is calling for an end to the structural discrimination and inequalities that hold BME people back at work.  The union body wants ministers to act to improve the experience of black and minority ethnic workers at work, including:   

  • Introducing mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting. Business and unions are united in their support for compulsory ethnicity pay gap monitoring. Alongside publishing the raw data, every employer must publish an action plan setting out how they will close their pay gap and ensure pay parity between black and white workers. 
  • Getting rid of insecure work. Black workers are significantly more likely to experience insecure and poor-quality work. Raising the floor of rights for everyone – by, for example, banning zero-hours contracts – will disproportionately be of benefit. Reversing outsourcing, introducing fair pay agreements across the economy and giving workers the right to access their union on-site would also improve rights for all. 

Paul Nowak, TUC general secretary, said:

“There’s no hiding from the fact that racism still plays a huge part in our jobs market. Ministers must take bold action to confront this inequality. The obvious first step is forcing bigger companies to disclose their ethnicity pay gaps. This will make employers confront the inequalities in their own workforces – and act to fix them. Business and unions are united in their support for compulsory pay gap monitoring. Ministers must bring it in without delay.” 

TUC Black workers’ conference 

TUC Black workers’ conference is one of the biggest gatherings of Black workers in the UK, bringing together hundreds of Black workers from across the UK and from every sector of the economy. This year, US trade unionist Chris Smalls – known for his organising work with Amazon – will be speaking, alongside TUC general secretary Paul Nowak. Items for debate include racism and inequality, the cost-of-living crisis, ethnicity pay gap reporting, and migrant workers and immigration. 

The NUJ’s Black Members’ Committee motion is about the lack of make-up artists, hair stylists, and lighting technicians who are skilled in showing black presenters and correspondents at their best in the broadcasting and photographic industries. The NUJ is seconding an Equity motion about media reporting of immigration, asylum, and racism and calls on the media to use the NUJ’s Race Reporting guide.

Full press release


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