- Although employment in "good jobs" rose for white, black and Latino workers from 1991 to 2016, the gains were not evenly distributed, according to a new report from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce and JP Morgan Chase.
- White workers obtained a disproportionate share of good jobs — or those that pay at least $35,000 for younger workers and $45,000 for older workers — over that period. Meanwhile, black and Latino workers were underrepresented in those roles.
- The report's authors call on lawmakers to enact policies that would spur a more equitable distribution of good jobs, such as efforts to increase educational attainment and to enforce anti-discrimination laws.
White workers have a "disproportionate edge" in the workforce that could last for decades if lawmakers don't address the "discrimination, racism, and other injustices" that have caused the underrepresentation of black and Latino workers in good jobs, the authors wrote in a statement.
In 2016, white workers accounted for 77% of good jobs, even though they only made up 69% of the workforce. On the other hand, black workers held 10% of good jobs, and Latinos held 13%, despite comprising 13% and 18%, respectively, of all workers.
Moreover, white workers tend to earn more than black and Latino workers, even when their levels of educational attainment are the same. For example, white workers with a bachelor's degree and a good job earned a median salary of $75,000 in 2016, while black and Latino workers earned a median of $65,000.
These inequities are partly due to new demands on the workforce. Between 1991 and 2016, growth in good jobs was concentrated in skilled positions, which often require workers with a postsecondary credential. Meanwhile, the number of good jobs in skilled-services industries that required a high school degree or less declined by roughly 700,000.
Over that period, the share of white workers with a bachelor's degree or more rose from 29% to 44%, enabling them to make substantial gains in employment and good jobs.
The shares of black and Latino workers with a bachelor's degree also rose (to 30% and 20%, respectively), during that time, but their growth lagged that of white workers — primarily because of systemic discrimination that creates barriers to postsecondary education, the report notes.
The researchers suggest several policies that could help close these equity gaps, including rewarding colleges that enroll and graduate underserved students, increasing funding for two-year institutions and retraining displaced workers.
Some of those goals are in line with the higher education policies of Democratic presidential candidates. Most of the presidential hopefuls, for instance, support free community college tuition.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has also called for investing $50 billion in minority-serving institutions (MSIs) and boosting funding for states that improve the outcomes of low-income and racial minority students. Likewise, House Democrats included a spending increase for MSIs in their recent proposal for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.