June 8, 2020 / 3:52 PM / a month ago

Black, minority Britons hit hardest by COVID job losses, researchers say

LONDON (Reuters) - Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people in Britain have been hit harder by job losses during the coronavirus crisis than the population as a whole, researchers have found.

The share of BAME people in employment fell to 67.4% in April from 72.0% in February, researchers from the University of Essex and other academic centres said.

That was a bigger drop than a decline to 79.4% from 81.1% for non-BAME people, they said, using data from the long-running Understanding Society survey led by the University of Essex.

People from ethnic minorities also face higher health risks from COVID-19, previously published research has shown. Black and Asian people in England are up to 50% more likely to die after being infected, an official study said last week.

The report comes as the global protests at the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have put renewed focus on the wider economic inequalities facing non-white people.

The research, which was first published on June 1, showed that fewer BAME people who reported a decline in hours worked had been put on the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme than non-BAME people in the same situation.

That scheme provides 80% of the wages of employees who are temporarily laid off.

“The BAME group is very heterogeneous and many questions remain unanswered,” Paul Fisher, one of the academics who worked on the report, said.

“Which communities are being hardest hit? Can the different types of jobs done by different workers explain the pattern? These are questions which urgently need answering and further research is needed.”

U.S. data published last week showed joblessness among African Americans and Asians rose even as the overall unemployment rate dropped unexpectedly in May.

The study showed bigger increases of BAME people who were in arrears on their bills after seeing their incomes fall, and they were also more likely to have borrowed money as a way to mitigate their earnings losses.

The research showed that people with less education also suffered a bigger fall in employment than people with more qualifications. But the difference was not as marked as between BAME and non-BAME people.

Writing by William Schomberg; editing by Mark John and Nick Macfie

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