BAME people in Luton twice as likely to be unemployed as white counterparts, figures show

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Black and minority ethnic people in Luton are twice as likely to be unemployed as their white counterparts, analysis shows.

Race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust says the ethnic employment gap is a "systemic" problem.

Some 8.2% of BAME jobseekers in Luton are unemployed, according to the Office for National Statistics.

For white people, the unemployment rate is 4.4%.

Across Britain, BAME jobseekers were also twice as likely to be unemployed as white jobseekers.

The unemployment rate measures people aged 16 and over without a job, who have been actively seeking work within the last month and can start work within two weeks.

The latest figures show there are an estimated 47,400 BAME people and 61,600 white people in Luton in this age range, who are either employed or looking for work.

Of those, 3,900 BAME adults are unemployed, compared with 2,700 white adults.

The employment rate is the percentage of 16 to 64-year-olds in full or part time work.

In Luton, the employment rate for BAME adults is 63%, and 77% for white people.

Runnymede Trust director Dr Omar Khan said part of the gap is down to hiring discrimination.

A recent Oxford University report showed that BAME jobseekers with the same qualifications as their white counterparts have to send 60% more applications to get an interview.

Dr Khan said: "Over the past two decades many ethnic minority groups have reduced the educational attainment gap, but these better qualifications are still not translating in the labour market.

"If you can't or don't progress any of your ethnic minority staff, you're a bad manager. That should be reflected in your appraisal, pay and responsibilities.

"We need to consider tougher measures to tackle discrimination directly, and hold out for greater penalties for employers who fail to improve."

Employment minister Alok Sharma said more needs to be done to level the playing field.

Mr Sharma said: "I am pleased that under this government the ethnic minority employment rate is at a record high. But there is much more to do.

"Where there were differences in representation, participation or achievement across ethnic minorities, we have been challenged to explain them - or change them.

"I have announced the roll-out of a nationwide mentoring initiative, designed to help jobseekers build their networks and get the work they want."