Recession leaves half of UK’s young black people unemployed

By Ian Dunt

Nearly half the young black people in the UK have been left unemployed by the recession, new research shows today.

In a startling set of findings which cast serious doubts on the government’s commitment to shielding vulnerable groups from the economic downturn, the research shows 48% of black people between the age of 16 and 24 are now out of work.

Unemployment among this group is up by 13%, from 35%, since the recession began and is well over twice the rate of unemployment among white young people, which stands at 20%.

The research, by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) comes on the same day as jobless figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The new official figures show unemoplment salling in the UK for the first time in 18 months, with total unemployment stading at 2.46 million, down by 7,000 in three months.

The number of people caiming Jobseeker’s Allowance fell to 1.61 million.

Ethnic groups have experienced a mixed reaction to the recession, the research shows. The smallest increase (six per cent) has been among young Asian people but overall unemployment among this group is still high at 31%.

“These findings are a worrying reminder that although the recession is affecting all young people, those from ethnic minorities or with fewer qualifications are far more likely to become part of a generation lost to unemployment and disadvantage,” said Lisa Harker, co-director of IPPR.

The research shows the weakness in the government’s commitment to “shield” ethnic minorities and other disadvantaged groups from the ravages of the economic downturn.

IPPR argues that the evidence shows the government must urgently consider alternative measures to prevent long-term unemployment among these groups, such as increasing the number of job placements in disadvantaged areas through the Future Jobs Fund, the government’s job creation scheme for young people.

The research replicates trends seen in previous recessions, when ethnic minorities were again disproportionately affected.

In the last recession of the early 1990s, for example, unemployment among ethnic minorities rose by ten per cent, compared with a six per cent increase overall.