Work opportunities are fractured along gender, race, class lines, EPI report says
- More than ever, two workforce groups are emerging: those who are working, staying in the workforce and putting in longer hours; and those who are falling out of, or never got into, the workforce, according to a new Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report. Why? Because opportunities are not universally available, EPI says.
- Opportunities have become fractured along gender, race and class lines, the institute said. Social and economic policy have lowered barriers to employment for some while increasing barriers for others. "For example, the rise in prime-age women’s labor force participation since 1979 stands in direct contrast to the decline in labor force participation among prime-age men, particularly among African American men with a high school diploma or less," the report says.
- The report seeks to "challenge the notion" that certain groups of people do not have access to jobs due to a lack of personal discipline, and instead examines the barriers in place for certain groups to jobs. Employers who are seeking a more diverse workforce may need to be aware of the structural blocks that could be impacting their hiring attempts.
For people of color, a variety of barriers remain for full workforce participation. A recent study, Day-to-Day Experiences of Emotional Tax Among Women and Men of Color in the Workplace, found that African-American, mixed-race, Asian and Latina women sometimes experience what's called an "emotional tax" that negatively affects their health and well-being because they feel their work is undervalued. As many as 38% of women of color consider leaving their jobs as a result.
Not only are black men not participating in the workforce at the rate they should be, the wage gap between black and white men has widened, according to a Bloomberg report. In 1979, black men earned 80% of what white men earned. By 2016, that gap had widened to 70%. The report also shows that the pay gap between whites and blacks also worsened for black women.
The tech industry, which pays some of the highest wages in the nation, continues to struggle with recruiting and retaining African Americans and Hispanics, in particular. An Ascend Leadership survey concluded that the industry has a race problem that's worse than its gender problem. Another study shows that women, African Americans and Hispanics in the industry often face mistreatment in the form of unfair or illegal practices, such as denying promotions and plum job assignments, bullying, sexual harassment and stereotyping.
This mistreatment has forced women and people of color out of tech Jobs. Lawmakers have taken notice, and the Congressional Black Caucus has stepped in, putting pressure on the tech industry to improve its recruiting, hiring and retention efforts for women, African Americans and other under-represented groups.
Mentoring could help reverse some of the retention problems with keeping people of color onboard, too. A survey from executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles found that people of color (32%) and women (30%) said they benefited from having a mentor in the workplace, compared to 23% of men. Having someone to help women and people of color get to know the workplace culture and perhaps break through some barriers could pay off.
- Economic Policy Institute Demographic trends in annual work hours show an increasingly fractured workforce