The black youth unemployment rate was the same in the last quarter of 2020 as in the early 1980s
Between October and December 2020, 41.6% of black people aged 16-24 were unemployed – the highest rate since the last financial crisis.
Unemployment among white workers of the same age stood at to 12.4%.
Before the pandemic, between January and March 2020, 10.6% of young white people were unemployed compared with 25.3% of young black people. Nine months later, the unemployment rate among young black people had shot up by 64.4% compared with 17% for their white counterparts.
Young black people were bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s economic crisis in the same way they did in the early 80s, early 90s and after the financial crash, said Prof Yaojun Li, from the University of Manchester. Like then, there was a high risk of “hyper-cyclical unemployment” for young black people, which would cause rates of unemployment to rise much higher and stay much longer for ethnic minorities than white people, he said.
Sarah Arnold, a senior economist at the New Economics Foundation, said young minority ethnic workers were already disproportionately likely to be in less secure employment before the pandemic, such as zero-hours or fixed-term contracts, or cash in hand employment with little or no contractual security.
“These kinds of jobs have received less protection from schemes like furlough, and it is likely this has contributed to unemployment rising much faster among these groups compared to both young white workers and the population as a whole,” Arnold said.