The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on ethnic minorities in Manchester: lessons from the early stage of the pandemic

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This review summarizes the economic impacts of the pandemic on ethnic minorities, focusing on the city of Manchester. It utilizes multiple reporting sources to explore various dimensions of the economic shock in the UK, linking this to studies of pre-COVID-19 economic and ethnic composition in Manchester and in the combined authority area of Greater Manchester. We then make inferences about the pandemic's short-term impact specific to the city region. Greater Manchester has seen some of the highest rates of COVID-19 and as a result faced particularly stringent “lockdown” regulations. Manchester is the sixth most deprived Local Authority in England, according to 2019 English Indices of Multiple Deprivation. As a consequence, many neighborhoods in the city were always going to be less resilient to the economic shock caused by the pandemic compared with other, less-deprived, areas. Particular challenges for Manchester include the high rates of poor health, low-paid work, low qualifications, poor housing conditions and overcrowding. Ethnic minority groups also faced disparities long before the onset of the pandemic. Within the UK, ethnic minorities were found to be most disadvantaged in terms of employment and housing–particularly in large urban areas containing traditional settlement areas for ethnic minorities. Further, all Black, Asian, and Minority ethnic (BAME) groups in Greater Manchester were less likely to be employed pre-pandemic compared with White people. For example, people of Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic backgrounds, especially women, have the lowest levels of employment in Greater Manchester. Finally, unprecedented cuts to public spending as a result of austerity have also disproportionately affected women of an ethnic minority background alongside disabled people, the young and those with no or low-level qualifications. This environment has created and sustained a multiplicative disadvantage for Manchester's ethnic minority residents through the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Sociology
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2023


  • ethnic minorities
  • COVID-19
  • UK local authorities
  • economic hardship
  • employment
  • Manchester


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