Young black people also had trouble finding work in the 1990s recession
Almost half of black people aged between 16 and 24 are unemployed, compared with 20% of white people of the same age, a think tank has claimed.
The left-leaning Institute for Public Policy Research said a survey of 7,200 young people showed a wide variation in unemployment by ethnic group.
Black unemployment had risen 13% since March 2008, compared with 8% among white people and 6% among Asians.
Campaigners said action was needed from government to help the black community.
The IPPR report came as official figures showed that the total number of people out of work had unexpectedly fallen by 7,000 in the three months to November.
The think tank looked at data from the Labour Force Survey - a quarterly sample of about 60,000 households. Within that, it examined the responses of 16 to 24-year-olds - a total of 7,200 in November 2009.
It said mixed ethnic groups had seen the biggest increases in youth unemployment since the recession began, rising from 21% to 35% in the period.
That trend echoed the recession in the early 1990s, it added, where unemployment among ethnic minorities rose by 10%, compared with a 6% increase overall.
If a quarter of adult males don't work for 10-20 years, it doesn't give communities much aspiration
Black Training and Enterprise Group
In terms of individual groups, 48% of black people, 31% of Asians and 20% of whites reported that they were out of work.
Lisa Harker, co-director of the IPPR, said the findings were a "worrying reminder" that those from ethnic minorities or with fewer qualifications were "far more likely to become part of a generation lost to unemployment and disadvantage".
The think tank said the government's pledge to shield ethnic minorities had "not been effective" and urged the government to draw up alternative measures to prevent long-term unemployment.
The IPPR said unemployment was highest for those with no qualifications, standing at 43%.
It said men fared worse than women, with 22% of male graduates unemployed, compared with 13% of females.
Jeremy Crook, director of the Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG), said part of the problem was there were very few black role models in Britain.
"Amongst black men, unemployment is about 20% - if a quarter of adult males don't work for 10-20 years, it doesn't give communities much aspiration, it demoralises and dissuades young people.
"They look to alternatives and get involved in gangs."
Mr Crook said black and ethnic minority communities suffered from a "long-term persistent recession" and the government needed to make a "more targeted effort" to suggest they could "achieve in life".
"Long-term unemployment is quite devastating, the government needs to improve outcomes and show pathways into apprenticeships.
"There is still discrimination amongst employers, particularly in construction and engineering," he added.
Dr Krishna Sarda, chief executive of the Ethnic Minority Foundation, said efforts needed to be made to enhance the opportunities, education prospects and economic integration.
"We strongly believe economic and social integration go together. We need action from government to ensure that these groups are not left behind," he said.
The IPPR found that young women with no qualifications were the worst hit across all age groups with unemployment at 46%, up by 18% from March 2008.
It said youth unemployment followed similar regional patterns to adult unemployment - and areas worst hit were those dependent on manufacturing and construction industries.