The number of black and Asian workers in low-paid jobs increased by 12.7 per cent between 2011 and 2014, according to a new report published last Friday to mark the beginning of the TUC’s annual Black Workers’ Conference.
The report – Living on the Margins – shows that over the same period the number of white workers employed in low-paying industries increased at a much slower rate of 1.8%.
In 2014 nearly two-fifths (37.6%) of black and Asian workers worked in low-paid industries, such as cleaning, care work and catering, compared to three in ten (29.6%) white employees.
The report also reveals that black and Asian workers are twice as likely to be trapped in temporary jobs as white workers. One in 23 (4.3%) black and Asian workers was in involuntary temporary employment in 2014, compared to one in 48 (2.1%) white workers.
Between 2011 and 2014 the number of black and Asian workers stuck in temporary work because they couldn’t find a permanent job increased by 20%, while for white workers it fell by 8%.
The report says that black and Asian workers on temporary contracts typically earn £30 a week less than white workers in the same situation and nearly £200 a week less than employees on permanent contracts.
Other key findings from the report include:
* Underemployment - In 2014 nearly half a million (470,000) black and Asian workers were underemployed - an increase of 11,000 (2.4%) on 2011. By contrast the number of underemployed white workers fell by 96,000 (3.4%) between 2011 and 2014.
* Agency work - Black and Asian workers are also more than twice as likely to be in agency work. The number of black and Asian employees doing agency jobs increased by nearly two-fifths (38%) between 2011 and 2014, compared to a 16% rise for white workers.
For all the talk of a recovery, our economy still isn’t creating enough well-paid, permanent jobs to meet demand.
These findings show how black and Asian workers have been disproportionately affected by the rise in causal work since the recession.
The report recommends:
* The government should fund the Equality and Human Rights Commission to conduct two sector-based reviews each year to produce an action plan, agreed with employers, for improving performance in ethnic minority recruitment, retention and promotion.
* The government should use public procurement to improve the employment of black workers by explicitly including the promotion of racial equality in consideration for all government contracts.
* The government should take action to address the under-representation of young black and Asian workers on apprenticeships and ensure they are able to access the full range of apprenticeships.