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A review of Black employment trends following Labor Day 2023

By September 6, 2023No Comments

From your friends at Neighborhood FORWARD, we hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend. Just in time for the holiday, Pew Research Center released new data on Black workers in the U.S. labor force. Some of their findings were quite interesting and show how systemic racism still affects Black Americans in the workplace. The topics Pew covered include: earnings trends, employment rates, which types of jobs Black Americans have and don’t have, discrimination trends, and thoughts on diversity within the workplace.

  • Is there a racial earnings gap?
    • Short answer: yes.
    • Long answer: Among workers aged 16 and older, the median weekly earnings for Black workers is almost $200 lower compared to the median of all U.S. workers. That disparity holds when including education level in the equation.
  • Is there a racial disparity in unemployment rates?
    • Last year, the unemployment rate for all Americans, aged 16 and older, was 3.7% and 3.6% for men and women, respectively. Yet, 6.3% of Black men and 6% of Black women were unemployed. Pew points to research on this topic, showing contributing factors like racial discrimination and gaps in education, skills, and work experience.
    • The silver lining is, in April of this year, Black unemployment hit a record low.
  • What occupations do Black Americans make up a higher or lower percentage of total workers in the industry?
    • Pew data shows Black workers make up 13% of the U.S. labor market, yet in the following occupations, Black workers make up over 30% of total workers in the industry.
      • Postal service clerks, sorters, and processors; transit bus drivers; nursing assistants; security guards and gambling surveillance officers; and home health aides, among several other types of jobs.
    • Also in the Pew data is which industries Black Americans are underrepresented in. Notice how the following are industries where Black workers have historically been denied access or pushed out.
      • Some of those include farmers, ranchers, and agricultural professionals; veterinarians; mechanical engineers; and electrical engineers, all of which have Black employment at 6% or less.
  • Who is most likely to have faced racial discrimination in the workplace?
    • Pew data from earlier this year shows about 41% of Black workers, 25% of Asian workers, 20% of Hispanic workers, and only 8% of White workers say they have experienced discrimination or unfair treatment based on their race or ethnicity.
  • Which workers place the highest value on improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace?
    • 78% of Black workers, 72% of Asian workers, 65% of Hispanic workers, and 47% of White workers said increasing DEI is a good thing, according to Pew survey data from earlier this year.

The data about Black workers and their experiences in the labor market shows some bright spots, such as Black unemployment trending down. However, the overwhelming conclusion we can draw is there’s still a lot of work to be done before Black Americans realize equity in the workplace.