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Home / Tim Worstall /We wouldn’t say this is, necessarily, evidence of structural racism

We wouldn’t say this is, necessarily, evidence of structural racism

Summary:
The TUC tells us that the unemployment rate for non-White Britons - or BAME - has risen more than that for White Britons during the events of the past year. We have no doubt that is true. The TUC goes on to insist that this shows the structural racism of the British economy etc. That’s the part we’re not so sure about.The coronavirus pandemic has held up a “mirror to the structural racism” in the UK’s labour market, the TUC has said, as a study reveals that jobless rates among black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups are now double the rate for white people.The report is here. There’s an unfortunate omission from the calculation. We can’t see the numbers presented simply but it’s possible to back calculate from the ONS - note, the same source as the TUC’s numbers - from here and

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The TUC tells us that the unemployment rate for non-White Britons - or BAME - has risen more than that for White Britons during the events of the past year. We have no doubt that is true. The TUC goes on to insist that this shows the structural racism of the British economy etc. That’s the part we’re not so sure about.

The coronavirus pandemic has held up a “mirror to the structural racism” in the UK’s labour market, the TUC has said, as a study reveals that jobless rates among black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups are now double the rate for white people.

The report is here. There’s an unfortunate omission from the calculation. We can’t see the numbers presented simply but it’s possible to back calculate from the ONS - note, the same source as the TUC’s numbers - from here and here. Some substantial portion of those BAME are first generation immigrants.

No, we are not against immigration, nor do we think that racism - structural or not - is just hunky dory. But we are entirely unsurprised that the unemployment rate among first generation immigrants is higher than of the domestically born. Especially in times of stress when it’s those lower down the societal pecking order who are more likely to lose their jobs. After all, it’s not entirely the way we would think things happen that recent immigrants leap to the top of that societal pecking order.

Just as a rough, back of the envelope, something like more than 50% of “Black African” residents in the UK are foreign born as an example.

For us this isn’t in fact about race or immigration. It is, rather, an example of our continued insistence - we have to work out why a thing is occurring before we can craft a response to that occurrence of that thing.

If x is happening because y then that leads to one set of possible solutions, if x is happening because of z then that requires a different response.

If the higher BAME unemployment rate is a result of the recent immigrant status of that healthy portion of the BAME population then responses are - and should be - different from the same problem caused by structural racism.

After all, classes in unconsciously racist bias aren’t going to solve a problem caused by the possibly different linguistic, knowledge capital, educational backgrounds, of immigrants, are they?

Again, to emphasise, the point is not to dismiss the problem, it’s to insist that a solution depends upon why it exists. Something we might therefore spend a little effort upon divining rather than just assuming that the cause is today’s fashionable explanation for everything.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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