How Layoffs Have Affected Black Workers In The Public Sector
BERKELEY, CA - Since January 2009, state and local governments have laid off 429,000 public workers. As governments contemplate additional layoffs, it is important to note that few commentators have examined the racial implications of this reduction in government employment. Often policy prescriptions that are race-neutral on the surface can have decidedly racial impacts. The research brief, Blacks and the Public Sector, explores the issue by analyzing the nature of Black employment in the public sector.
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The results of this study are striking:
The public sector is the single most important source of employment for African Americans.
During 2008-2010, 21.2% of all Black workers are public employees, compared with 16.3% of non-Black workers. Both before and after the onset of the Great Recession, African Americans were 30% more likely than other workers to be employed in the public sector.
The public sector is also a critical source of decent-paying jobs for Black Americans. For both men and women, the median wage earned by Black employees is significantly higher in the public sector than in other industries.
Prior to the recession, the wage differential between Black and white workers was less in the public sector than in the overall economy
About the author
Steven Pitts is a labor policy specialist at the UC Berkeley Labor Center. Over the past ten years, he has developed a set of leadership development, research, and technical assistance projects addressing issues of Black workers and job quality. Pitts has an A.B. from HarvardCollege and a M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Houston.