Unequally Insecure: Racial Disparities in Job Insecurity, 1979-2009

Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The end of the civil rights era coincided with the beginning of economic restructuring. Thus, jobs that in the postwar era had provided stable paths to economic security for broad swaths of white Americans became open to larger numbers of Americans of color just as the jobs themselves may have become less secure (MacLean 2006). Conversely, insecurity may have grown most dramatically in relatively white, previously stable jobs (Hollister 2011). I offer the first documentation of racial disparities in job insecurity, operationalized as the risk of displacement (e.g., layoffs), over the past three decades. Using the CPS Displaced Worker Survey, covering displacements 1979-2009, I document the size and persistence of racial disparities in displacement; evaluate the historical relationship between the racial composition of jobs and their rate of displacement; and explore whether incorporating displacement generates a substantively different view of racial patterns of economic inequality than considering wage inequality alone.

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Presented in Poster Session 3