Categories:  'Racial Inequality'  

Blacks Hardest Hit By Recession’s Public-Sector Cuts

African-Americans are overrepresented among public-sector employees – almost 20% of Black adults work for the government, while only 14% of whites and 10% of Hispanics [...]

African-Americans are overrepresented among public-sector employees – almost 20% of Black adults work for the government, while only 14% of whites and 10% of Hispanics are employed in the public sector.

It follows then, that African-Americans were hardest hit by the public sector job cuts that began during the 2008 recession and have continued for many years since. But, as a recent study by University of Washington sociologist Jennifer Laird found, Black employees, and in particular Black women were more likely to lose their jobs than their White or Hispanic counterparts in the public sector.

These differences persisted “even after controlling for education, job type, skill differences and other factors,” and Laird says her study shows how a sector once thought to protect minority workers may no longer do so.

Legal and court decisions in the 1940s opened public sector employment to workers of color in an era where Black adults had few opportunities to attain a middle-class job in the often-discriminatory private sector.

Laird’s study doesn’t show the causes of the racial employment gap in the public sector, but she speculates that “black workers are more likely to be laid off when job cuts are triggered by a sudden and significant reduction in funding — when the number of layoff decisions increases, she said, managers have more opportunities to discriminate.”

 

Image: Pamela Sparks, a longtime postal worker in Baltimore, has several relatives at the Postal Service and worries about their jobs. Credit: Monica Lopossay for The New York Times

Articles

Publication Date: 11/28/2011
Source: The New York Times
Author: Timothy Williams
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Source: UW News
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