Young black workers among those hit hardest by coronavirus unemployment rise

The Resolution Foundation urged the Government to prioritise the employment prospects for young people as the economy recovers.

The entrance to a Jobcentre Plus near Westferry in East London
The entrance to a Jobcentre Plus near Westferry in East London

Young people – particularly young black people – have been the hardest hit by the rise in unemployment during the pandemic, an economic think tank has warned.

The Resolution Foundation (RF) – which focuses on those on low and middle incomes – said the young had borne the brunt of the job losses because they disproportionately worked in sectors such as hospitality and leisure, which have been worst affected by the crisis.

The analysis found that the crisis had widened existing unemployment gaps between different ethnic groups – particularly among education-leavers.

It said that before the pandemic, the unemployment rate among young people with a black background was 25%, compared with 21% for those from an Asian background, and 10% for those from a white background.

However, during the crisis that rose by more than a third to 35% for young black people, as against 24% for those with an Asian background and 13% for those who are white.

It also found that between April to June and July to September 2020, the unemployment rate among 18 to 24-year-olds rose from 11.5% to 13.6% – an 18% increase, representing the largest quarter-on-quarter rise among this age group since 1992.

It said that people aged 16 to 24 also accounted for 57% of the fall in employment between the three months to January 2020 and the three months to January 2021.

Economy support
The Resolution Foundation has called for the Government to prioritise the employment prospects for young people as the economy recovers (Rui Vieira/PA)

The RF said those leaving education during the pandemic had faced particular difficulties, with unemployment among non-graduate leavers rising from 14% to 18% between 2019 and 2020 – a 28% increase.

Among graduates, it was up from 10% to 14% – a rise of 40%.

Kathleen Henehan, a senior research and policy analyst at the RF, said the Government should prioritise the employment prospects for young people as the economy recovers.

“The furlough scheme has done a fantastic job of minimising 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 from Covid-19, and putting their careers back on track must be a priority for Government in the months and years ahead.”

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