Black unemployment still high

Lee Jasper of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts
Lee Jasper of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts

Reduction in jobless at odds with BME experience
By Henry Brefo
The UK economy is bouncing back from the recession and expected to grow at 2.8%, up from its earlier forecast of 2.7% this year, according to the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC).
The BCC predicts that in the second quarter starting in April, GDP will exceed its pre-recession peak in 2008. Alongside the positive growth forecast, the unemployment rate since the month of December has also fallen from 7.6% to 7.1%.
Lee Jasper, co-chair of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC), insists that these figures do not reflect the employment conditions of ethnic minorities in the UK. He states that despite the positive growth forecast and a fall in unemployment “Black communities in the UK are hit by massive rises in unemployment”.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) noted stark discrepancies in the employment rate within communities. According to their figures, 19% of whites aged 16-19 are unemployed as opposed to 45% of young black people, 26% of young mixed-race workers and 34% of young Indians.
A study by the Centre for Economic Performance found that racial prejudice and inequality has increased as a result of the recession. According to a February 2014 report titled When Work Disappears: Racial Prejudice and Recession Labour Market Penalties, “when the rate of unemployment increases by four percentage points, the already existing wage gap between highly-educated Black and White men increases by about 10 per cent”.
John Philpott, director of the Jobs Economist think tank, said that the “the persistence of a large unemployment rate gap between ethnic minority and white youth nonetheless suggests there is a larger structural element to the problem of youth unemployment for ethnic minorities that won’t be solved by a stronger economic recovery alone.”
The structural barriers to fair and equal opportunities in the labour market, according to lee Jasper, stems from new and old forms of social indiscretion. He points out that the austerity budget and institutional discrimination have heightened racial inequality.
The majority of our communities are already living in islands of poverty, debt and deprivation surrounded by seas of relative wealth and prosperity. Black communities have for many decades inhabited an economic twilight zone, where they suffer greater levels of unemployment, poverty, ill health, poor housing and worse schools, alongside the resulting violent criminality. Black communities existed precariously on the very edge of a deep economic abyss even prior to the current economic crisis.