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UK — Ethnic youth unemployment reaches worrying levels

20 January 2010

Ahead of the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) jobless figures published today (see article above), new analysis from the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) shows that almost half (48%) of black people aged between 16-24 are now unemployed. Unemployment among this group is up by 13% from 35% since the recession began and is well over twice the rate of unemployment among white young people which stands at 20%.

ippr's new analysis highlights that mixed ethnic groups have seen the biggest overall increases in unemployment, rising from 21% in March 2008 to 35% in November 2009. The smallest increase (6%) has been among young Asian people but overall unemployment among this group is still high at 31%. Overall youth unemployment currently stands at almost 943,000 (18%) of 16-24 year olds out of work, a 15 year high.

ippr shows that, as in previous recessions, ethnic minorities have been disproportionately affected by the rise in unemployment. In the last recession of the early 1990s for example, unemployment among ethnic minorities rose by 10 percentage points, compared with a 6 percentage point increase overall. The findings suggest the government's pledge last year to 'shield' ethnic minorities by targeting support at disadvantaged groups has not proven effective.

ippr argues that this evidence shows that the government must urgently consider alternative measures to prevent long-term unemployment among these groups, such as increasing the number of job placements in disadvantaged areas through the Future Jobs Fund, the government's job creation scheme for young people.

Lisa Harker, Co-Director of ippr, said "these findings are a worrying reminder that although the recession is affecting all young people, those from ethnic minorities or with fewer qualifications are far more likely to become part of a generation lost to unemployment and disadvantage."
"Extra action should be considered, such as increasing the number of Future Jobs Fund places in disadvantaged areas. This would ensure more young people can learn new skills and stay close to the labour market while looking for permanent work. With fewer jobs available for young people, the government must do all it can to reduce the impact of the recession."



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