The public sector has long recruited Blacks as part of the government policy of positive discrimination and whenever there are cuts in government jobs, the impact was more on Blacks than other ethnic communities.
The so-called Great Recession of 2008 wiped out many of those jobs, as tax revenues declined and anti-government sentiment added to a contraction that continued long after that. Those job cuts disproportionately hurt African-American workers and increased racial disparity in the public sector, a new study by University of Washington sociologist Jennifer Laird says.
“There’s a double disadvantage that black public-sector workers face, particularly black women,” said Laird, a doctoral student in sociology. “They’re concentrated in a shrinking sector of the economy, and they’re substantially more likely than other public sector employees to be without work.”
Nearly one in five black adults works for the government, ranging from teaching to delivering mail, managing departments to investigating crimes. By comparison, 14 percent of whites and 10 percent of Hispanics have government jobs.
Since blacks are more in government work, the public-sector cuts naturally affected them more but Laird’s research, presented this week at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting in Chicago, found that black civil servants, especially women, lost their jobs at rates higher than whites.