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Young black workers hit hard by job losses

By JULIAN SHEA in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-04-15 10:02
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A person looks at the adverts in the window of a job agency in London, Oct 13, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Young black people have been hit harder by unemployment in the United Kingdom over the course of the novel coronavirus pandemic than any other demographic, a study by the Resolution Foundation think tank has revealed.

Successive lockdowns have had a particularly large impact on sectors such as hospitality and leisure, where young people are more likely to be working. Within that group, racial divisions have emerged, with unemployment among young black people rising by more than 10 percent, to 35 percent.

By contrast, the unemployment rate among young people of Asian descent is 24 percent, and 13 percent for young white people. Both these rates have risen by 3 percent during the pandemic.

The Resolution Foundation focuses on the welfare of people on lower and middle incomes, and senior research and policy analyst Kathleen Henehan said the heavy toll taken by young people showed they needed prioritization in the pandemic's economic aftermath.

"The furlough scheme has done a fantastic job of minimizing job losses amidst unprecedented shutdowns of our economy," she said.

"But young people have still experienced a sharp rise in unemployment during the COVID-19 crisis, with recent education-leavers and young black people being hardest hit.

"Young people have sacrificed their livelihoods in order to save the lives of others … and putting their careers back on track must be a priority for government in the months and years ahead."

Recent graduates and school leavers have struggled to get a foothold in the job market.

"The rise in youth unemployment is not just about those losing their jobs, but also about young people not finding work in the first place," the foundation's report said.

"Those who left education just before or during the crisis-the so-called class of 2020-have faced particular difficulties, with unemployment rising fastest among those who recently left education. Having a degree has not protected recent graduates from this effect."

The report comes in the wake of other research by the London School of Economics into significant wage disparity in the UK along ethnic lines, which was quoted by the foundation in the aftermath of the highly contentious and much disputed report by the government's Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities.

"Black, Bangladeshi and Pakistani men earn 10-25 percent less than similar white men. Female employment gaps haven't closed either. These findings of persistent disadvantage match our own work (ignored by the commission) and are consistent with discrimination and structural inequalities," foundation chief executive Torsten Bell wrote in the Guardian.

"Wealth gaps are bigger. Black home-ownership rates are under half those of white. Bangladeshi adults have a quarter of the wealth held by white adults on average. With evidence of such inequalities, it's beyond me how anyone thinks it's job done."

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