Figures for Black youth unemployment contradict government denial of institutional racism

Young people protesting

The most recent data on youth unemployment during the pandemic from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that Black youth unemployment has shot up disproportionately compared to white youths in the 16-24 age bracket. And this seems to contradict the recent government report denying institutional racism in the UK.

The controversial government report

In March, a government report probing institutional racism in the UK concluded that factors such as social class, geographical location and family values determine people’s life chances rather than ethnicity. These findings have infuriated equality campaigners who say racism is rife in Britain’s institutions.

The refusal to acknowledge the anecdotal experiences of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) people has severely impacted faith in the report and constitutes a blow to inter-community relations at a time when tensions are rising. Commentators have criticised the report for distorting the findings to fit the government’s political agenda. The Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity tweeted in response:

Imperial College London’s Prof Azeem Majeed told the Guardian:

It’s very poorly done, very weak… The panel doesn’t contain any health experts, and they overlook 30 or 40 years of evidence about health inequalities.

Youth unemployment stats

The findings of the ONS report on youth unemployment show:

  • Between October and December 2020, 41.6% of Black people aged 16-24 were unemployed compared with white unemployment at 12.4%.
  • Pre-pandemic (between January and March 2020) 10.6% of young white people were unemployed compared with 25.3% of young Black people.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has affected employment among all age groups and ethnicities, there is more than enough evidence to back up claims that BIPOC communities face further disadvantages in the labour market. An October 2020 report from the Resolution Foundation thinktank also found that:

over one-in-five black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) workers, who were furloughed during lockdown have since their lost jobs

In short, despite government insistence that class, culture, and values are the main components that define outcomes for individuals in modern Britain, recent data strongly suggests that ethnicity is a factor.

Main article image used with permission

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