Young black people 'hit hardest by Covid job losses', think tank warns

14 April 2021, 06:14 | Updated: 14 April 2021, 06:35

Young black people have been hit hardest by Covid unemployment, the think tank said
Young black people have been hit hardest by Covid unemployment, the think tank said. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Young black people and recent education leavers have been hit hardest by the rise in unemployment during the pandemic, an economic think tank has warned.

Analysis by the Resolution Foundation (RF) found that the coronavirus crisis had widened existing unemployment gaps between ethnic groups in the UK, particularly among education-leavers.

The think tank - which focuses on those on low and middle incomes, said that before the pandemic - unemployment among young people with a black background was 25 per cent, but has since risen by more than a third to 35 per cent.

For those from an Asian background it has risen from 21 per cent to 24 per cent, while for those from a white background it has increased from 10 per cent to 13 per cent.

In general, workers aged between 18 and 24 years old bore the brunt of job losses as they disproportionately worked in sectors such as hospitality and leisure - which had been worst affected by the pandemic - the RF said.

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The think tank found that between April to June and July to September 2020, the unemployment rate among that age group rose from 11.5 per cent to 13.6 per cent.

This 18 per cent increase represented the largest quarter-on-quarter rise among 18-24-year-olds since 1992.

It also said those aged between 16 and 24 made up 57 per cent of the fall in employment between the three months prior to January 2020 and the three months ahead of January 2021.

Meanwhile, those leaving education during the pandemic also faced particular difficulties, with unemployment among non-graduate leavers rising from 14 per cent to 18 per cent between 2019 and 2020 - a 28 per cent increase.

Among graduates, it was up from 10 per cent to 14 per cent - a rise of 40 per cent.

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Kathleen Henehan, a senior research and policy analyst at the RF, said ministers should prioritise the job 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."