Black people in Britain more likely to be unemployed than those in US

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Black people in Britain suffer from higher unemployment than those in the US because of a failure to address social inequality in the labour market, according to new research.

Joblessness among the black population in the UK stood at 18 per cent last year, compared with 15 per cent in the US, the British Sociological Association reports today.

The disparity also held during the two previous recessions: 24 per cent in Britain compared with America's 17 per cent in the 1980s, and 28 per cent to 13 per cent in the early 1990s.

Professor Yaojun Li from the University of Manchester said the figures were "a fairly strong indication that the flexible labour market politics adopted in Britain in the last few decades [had not protected] the minority ethnic groups against the repercussions of recessions."

It was US affirmative action programmes and federal recruitment policies, he thought, that had ensured that unemployment had not hit American black people as badly as their British counterparts.

The study also suggested that young people in the UK are suffering more than those across the Atlantic. Unemployment in Britain for those aged 16 to 24 was 15 per cent last year, 3 per cent higher than in the US. Once again, it was also higher during the preceding two recessions.