Black and minority ethnic youth unemployment "rose by 50% under the coalition"

New statistics suggest that over 40,000 black, Asian and ethnic minority people aged 18 to 24 have been unemployed for more than 12 months.

Sign Up

Get the New Statesman's Morning Call email.

The number of young people from black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds in long-term unemployment has increased by 50% since 2010, according to Labour. 

The number of BAME 16 to 24-year-olds out of work for more than 12 months has increased to 41,000 - accounting for one-fifth of youth unemployment - according to an analysis of official figures by the House of Commons Library and the Office for National Statistics.

The significance of this rise is thrown in to sharp relief when compared to the trends for young white people. There was a 2% fall in long-term unemployment among young white people, resulting in an overall fall in long-term youth unemployment of 1%.

Labour attributed the rise to the Coalition's "shocking complacency".

“These figures are astonishing,” said the shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan. “At a time where general unemployment is going down and employment is going up, it is doing the reverse for this group… we have got a generation that is being thrown on the scrapheap, and what compounds it is that a disproportionate number are black, Asian, minority ethnic.”

Jonathan Portes, Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, told the NS: "High levels of unemployment in this group are a long-standing problem and a serious one, but, as the sample size for this group is small, it's difficult to conclude from this data that things are necessarily getting worse."

Labour used the statistics to highlight their "approach to race quality", drawing attention to their BAME manifesto and Jobs Guarantee. The party states: "Labour’s pledge to guarantee every young person out of work for over a year and claiming benefits a paid starter job and training will help more than 3,200 BAME young people back into work."

Portes emphasised that Labour's proposed policy may not be enough to tackle the issue, adding, "Labour's Jobs Guarantee clearly doesn't address the scale of the problem - 3,200 young people is a very small proportion of the total."

Anna Leszkiewicz is the New Statesman's deputy culture editor.