Covid-19 has not only disproportionately impacted the health of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) citizens in the United Kingdom, but the pandemic has had a devastating impact on jobs in these communities.
An already-high BAME unemployment rate has increased since the start of the pandemic, according to a new report by the Trades Union Congress, which represents unions in the UK.
A breakdown of non-White employment by industry shows early evidence of job losses among these workers in industries hit hard by the pandemic, especially when compared to the fall in the number of White employees within these industries, noted the “Jobs and Recovery Monitor” report released in January.
The report examined layoffs, employment/unemployment, and job losses by industries. The drop in BAME jobs through September 2020 was 26 times higher than Whites.
According to the report:
Layoffs have hit a record high, with 370,000 reported in Aug-Oct 2020. This is a 212 percent increase on the same period a year ago (another record) and is 58,000 higher than any three-month period during the financial crisis.
From August to October 2020, the number of people unemployed leapt up by 241,000 people (16.6 percent). This means the unemployment rate is now 4.9 percent, compared to 3.9 percent in Nov.-Jan. 2020. Some 1.69 million people are unemployed. The employment rate has fallen from 76.5 percent to 75.2 percent across the same period.
819,200 jobs were lost between Feb. and Nov. 2020. Job losses have been concentrated in a handful of industries, with three industries accounting for 70 percent of job losses: accommodation and food (297,000), wholesale and retail (160,000) and manufacturing (115,000).
From July-Sept. 2020 the overall unemployment rate for Whites was 4.5 percent compared to 8.5 percent for BAME. For White men the unemployment rate was 5 percent compared to 8.2 percent for BAME men. White female unemployment was 3.9 percent compared to BAME women unemployment at 8.8 percent. In most industries, the number of BAME workers fell while the number of White workers either fell by a much smaller percentage or grew, the report noted.
According to diversity.uk.org, in 2018 about 13.8 percent of the UK population was from a minority ethnic background with London having 40 percent of its population from the BAME background.
According to the 2011 Census, the total population of England and Wales was 56.1 million with Whites making up 86 percent of the population and Blacks making up just 3.3 percent (nearly 1.9 million people). Black ethnic groups are mostly comprised of Black African (1.8 percent), Black Caribbean (1.1 percent) and Black Other (0.5 percent).
In 2020 the BBC reported that Black people in the UK were twice as likely to catch Covid-19. Contributing factors included the inability to work from home, the likelihood of living in urban areas where transmission rates are higher and likely to have less living space to social distance.
In 2020 approximately 34 percent of all critically ill Covid-19 patients in the UK were from an ethnic minority, reported BBC.
The Trades Union Congress called on the UK government to address systemic racism. Union official Frances O’Grady said: “BAME workers have borne the brunt of the economic impact of this pandemic. In every industry where jobs have gone, BAME people have been more likely to be made unemployed.”
When “BAME workers have held on to their jobs, we know that they are more likely to be working in low-paid, insecure jobs that put them at greater risk from the virus,” she said.
According to uk.news.yahoo.com, the Trades Union Congress called on the government to introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting, ban zero-hours contracts which disproportionately impact BAME workers, and publish all equality impact assessments on government responses to Covid-19.
“We have seen evidence of widening inequality during the pandemic— both because of the virus and because of the impact of the government’s emergency measures,” said Dr. Patrick Roach, chair of the TUC anti-racism taskforce, reported uk.news.yahoo.com.
“During previous economic downturns, BAME workers have been ‘first out and last in.’ The government needs to address the causes and effects of structural racism and set out a national recovery plan that works for everyone,” he added.
However, this trying period can also be used as an opportunity particularly for Blacks in the UK to do something for themselves, said the Nation of Islam representative based in London.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, of the U.S. based Black empowerment movement, has warned Blacks must do something for self or suffer the consequences, said Student Minister Abdul Hakeem Muhammad, European Region Representative of the Nation of Islam.
The unemployment reality and the hardships Black Brits are facing is real, but men and women can get what they strive for, he told The Final Call.
During the UK’s first shutdown, 8,000 businesses were reportedly closed and only about 4,500 reopened, observed Student Minister Muhammad.
“But what did happen is 80,000 new businesses were registered at Companies House. So people, whilst they were on lockdown, they got busy. They didn’t stay at home and weep and moan, they started businesses, you know, online businesses and started doing for self so 80,000, new jobs were created,” he said. Companies House is the UK’s registrar of companies and businesses.
The UK government has closed schools and with the closing of certain businesses it has forced people to look inward.
Student Min. Muhammad said he has seen increased interest among Blacks in business, acquiring land and real estate.
Since the beginning of the lockdown, the European Region of the Nation of Islam has been hosting online forums on independent education, homeschooling and business development as it becomes more clear that relying strictly on government resources and rescue is futile.
What is happening could be a “blessing in disguise,” Mr. Muhammad continued.
Student Min. Muhammad hosts an online forum called Spiritual Injection with a segment titled “Exodus” which explores various aspects and areas of business.
Blacks in the UK are very open to try and work toward doing something different, he observed. “People are open … people want to learn,” he said.
For more information, visit The Nation of Islam European Regional Headquarters on Facebook.