Black Employment Blues
Black Workers Can No Longer Rely on Blue Jobs

Public sector jobs are in decline, and one community has been hit particularly hard: African Americans. Historically, the black middle class has relied on the government for good jobs. One in five African Americans are employed by the government, making them more dependent on public sector employment than whites and Hispanics. But those jobs are disappearing, as the New York Times reports:

The Labor Department counts half a million fewer public sector jobs than before the start of the recession in 2007. That figure, however, understates just how much the government’s work force has shrunk, said Elise Gould, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a labor-oriented research organization in Washington. That is because it fails to account for the normal growth in the country’s population: Factor that in, she said, and there are 1.8 million fewer jobs in the public sector for people to fill.

The decline reverses a historical pattern, researchers say, with public sector employees typically holding onto their jobs even during most economic downturns.

Because blacks hold a disproportionate share of the jobs, relative to their share of the population, the cutbacks naturally hit them harder.

But black workers overall, women in particular, also lost their jobs at a higher rate than whites, Ms. Laird found. There was a “double disadvantage for black public sector workers,” she said. “They are concentrated in a shrinking sector of the economy, and they are substantially more likely than other public sector workers to be without work.”

Features Icon
Features
show comments
© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service