Public Sector Job Cuts and the Black Middle Class

bus driver (2)Budget cuts at the federal, state and local levels have resulted in fewer public sector jobs, undermining the nation’s economic recovery and fueling continuing unemployment.

This trend is especially hurting African-American families. According to this article in the New York Times, black adults are 30% more likely to have public-sector jobs than whites are. And the decrease in the number of public-sector jobs has closed off a vital pathway to the middle class for many African Americans.

Plus, it turns out black public sector workers are more likely to have lost their jobs in recent years than whites.

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. …
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, [Jennifer Laird, a University of Washington sociologist] 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.”

We encourage you to read the article, which also looks at how the recession devastated the black middle class, and how cuts in various public programs have not only meant fewer jobs but also fewer supports for families trying to work toward a better life.

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