According to the Bank of England, we may be facing the biggest economic downturn we’ve seen in 300 years, and like every recession, black and brown people have been hit the hardest – especially when it comes to employment.
The 2008 recession is a clear example of how mass job losses hit black and brown people harder than other workers, and even before the pandemic, The Race Inequality in the Workforce study found that millennials from these backgrounds are at considerable risk of being in unstable employment compared to their white peers, with them being 47% more likely to be on a zero-hours contract. Douglas White, Head of Advocacy at Carnegie Trust UK highlighted that “the over-representation of BAME groups in precarious work means that those from ethnic minority backgrounds are at an increased risk of suffering negative labour market consequences during the Covid-19 crisis.”
Lord Simon Wooley, Founder and Director of Operation Black Vote, stressed that “employers have a lot of power and discretion. The fear is that they’ll use that discriminatorily against the black community. Why do we say that? Because it happens. It has happened in the past – last in, first out, lowest paid, easiest to get rid of…It’s a red flag of what is going to come next – the deep inequality in healthcare and the deep inequality in employment.”
He added, “Our view is that we urgently need a Covid-19 race equality strategy to include employment to make sure employers are not disproportionately getting rid of black staff and ensuring that they take on young black men and women to make sure they come out of this in better shape rather than leaving them in the scrap heap.”