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This paper focuses on standard official sources, some of which which do not reflect the effect of the coronavirus pandemic. For more timely data on the labour market, see the Library briefing Coronavirus: Impact on the labour market

The (seasonally adjusted) UK unemployment rate was 3.9% in April-June 2020 (the non-seasonally adjusted rate was 3.8%) The (non-seasonally adjusted) rate was 3.5% for people from a White ethnic background compared to 6.1% for people from minority ethnic backgrounds although there was substantial variation between groups. 

The number of people from a minority ethnic background who are unemployed has decreased slightly since the same period last year, going from a rate of 7.5% to 6.1%. The unemployment rate for people from White ethnic backgrounds has increased from same period last year, going from 3.3% to 3.5%, and is currently close to historically low levels. Unemployment rates for people both from White and minority ethnic backgrounds are below the rates seen prior to the economic downturn in 2008.

Following the downturn there was an increase in unemployment rates across ethnic groups. The unemployment rate for people from a White background reached a peak of 7.8% in 2011 while the rate for people from minority ethnic backgrounds increased to a peak of 14.7% in 2009. Rates for those from a White ethnic background and from minority ethnic backgrounds have more than halved since 2009.

In the 12 months to March 2020, the unemployment rate was highest for people from a Black, and Bangladeshi or Pakistani (8%) background. The unemployment rate was lowest for people from a White (3%), Indian (4$) or Chinese (4%) ethnic background. 

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