Ministers admit 60% of young black men jobless

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More than six in 10 young black men in London are out of work, according to data released by ministers yesterday.

Government critics saw the figures as the most stark statistical evidence yet of a breakdown in the social fabric of inner cities and called for urgent action to deal with the problem.

In a parliamentary answer to the Labour Party frontbencher Harriet Harman, Philip Oppenheim, Employment Minister, revealed a Labour Force Survey estimate that 62 per cent of black men in London between 16 and 24 were unemployed.

The figures, based on the International Labour Organsiation's definition of unemployment, also found that more than a third of black men of all ages in the capital were out of work. Just over a fifth of black women were jobless, according to estimates covering last summer.

Ms Harman, Labour's employment spokeswoman, said the statistics were "truly shocking" and proved that a whole generation was outside the world of work. Many of the jobless had children themselves, she said. "Children are growing up in families which havenever known the security and dignity of work."

Young black men were three times more likely to be jobless than young white men in London, one in five of whom was also out of work.

"It is clear that even steady improvement in the economy will not make a dent in unemployment among young black people - it has gone too deep," she said.

Ms Harman called for specific action targeted on inner cities. Young black men needed the skills to get them into work and access to help in establishing small businesses, she said. "A whole generation is in danger of being alienated from the rest of a society which appears to offer them little or no future. Society has an obligation to offer young people opportunities in life."

Launching a report this week which showed that the country's largest employers paid only lip service to equal opportunities, Herman Ouseley, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, said all the top decision-makers in government and the private sector bore a responsibility for the plight of ethnic minorities.