Campaigners are worried that ethnic minorities are not benefiting from job growth as official figures show that employment rates among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups is still lower than those among white people.
The latest Labour Market statistics released last week showed that from January-March 2015 to April-June 2015, unemployment rates for white people dropped by 2.4 per cent but increased for ethnic minority people by 16.42 per cent.
Year on year unemployment rates for white people decreased by 11.44 per cent, yet they only decreased by 7.3 per cent for ethnic minority people. Self-employment rates for BAME people, however, increased by 60.1 per cent, but decreased by 2.1 per cent for white people.
Sandra Kerr, race equality director at Business in the Community, said she was concerned that a wider economic recovery “is not fully inclusive of our ethnic minority populations”.
“The fact that self-employment rates for BAME people are growing at a faster rate than for white people indicates that traditional routes of employment may not be fully available to ethnic minority people,” she said.
“It is also important to look at employment picture across all ethnicities and by gender.”
She added that self-employment rates have increased greatly for Pakistani women (124.5 per cent), Chinese men (74.1 per cent), and black/African/Caribbean men (25.8 per cent).
“This indicates that specific ethnic groups and genders are having to find employment independently rather than access traditional routes,” she said.
“We know that BAME people are under-represented at all levels of work – from entry level through to management and the board.
“These latest Labour Force stats show that while the economic picture is buoyant, this is not being experienced by ethnic minority populations. Even more worrying, it indicates that work is not necessarily paying for these individuals.”
UK unemployment overall went up to 1.85 million in the April to June period, a rise of 25,000 on the previous quarter.
Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: “Thanks to our long-term economic plan we have already seen two million more people in jobs since 2010.
“On top of that, today’s figures show job vacancies at a near record high – evidence of the continued confidence of British businesses, and potential for further growth in the UK economy.”
Stephen Timms, Labour’s acting shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “The rise in unemployment is worrying and shows we cannot afford to be complacent about the recovery.
“With productivity stagnating, David Cameron and George Osborne must take bolder action to raise jobseekers’ skill levels to get more back into work”
The Business in the Community charity is conducting the largest survey of race at work to better understand experiences of ethnic minorities. For more information, go to www.raceat work.org.uk