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Racial Gaps in Labor Market Outcomes in the Last Four Decades and over the Business Cycle

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Abstract

We examine racial disparities in key labor market outcomes for men and women over the past four decades, with a special emphasis on their evolution over the business cycle. Blacks have substantially higher and more cyclical unemployment rates than whites, and observable characteristics can explain very little of this differential, which is importantly driven by a comparatively higher risk of job loss. In contrast, the Hispanic-white unemployment rate gap is comparatively small and is largely explained by lower educational attainment of (mostly foreign-born) Hispanics. Regarding labor force participation, the remarkably low participation rate of black men is largely unexplained by observables, is mostly driven by high labor force exit rates from employment, and has shown little improvement over the last 40 years. Furthermore, even among those who work, blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to work part-time schedules despite wanting to work additional hour s, and the racial gaps in this involuntary part-time employment are large even after controlling for observable characteristics. Our findings also suggest that the robust recovery of the labor market in the last few years has contributed significantly to reducing the gaps that had widened dramatically as a result of the Great Recession; however, the disparities remain substantial.

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  • Tomaz Cajner & Tyler Radler & David Ratner & Ivan Vidangos, 2017. "Racial Gaps in Labor Market Outcomes in the Last Four Decades and over the Business Cycle," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2017-071, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2017-71
    DOI: 10.17016/FEDS.2017.071
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    1. Stephens, Heather & Deskins, John, 2017. "Economic Distress and Labor Market Participation," 2018 Allied Social Sciences Association (ASSA) Annual Meeting, January 5-7, 2018, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 266306, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    2. Kalee Burns & Julie L. Hotchkiss, 2019. "Migration Constraints and Disparate Responses to Changing Job Opportunities," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2019-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    3. B Ferreira Neto, Amir, 2018. "Do public libraries impact local labor markets? Evidence from Appalachia," MPRA Paper 89584, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Hamza Bennani, 2021. "Monetary Policy and the Racial Unemployment Rates in the US," EconomiX Working Papers 2021-8, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.
    5. Richard H. Clarida, 2019. "The Federal Reserve’s Review of Its Monetary Policy Strategy, Tools, and Communication Practices : A speech at \"Fed Listens: A Capstone Roundtable\" hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Ne," Speech 1062, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    6. Lael Brainard, 2017. "Why Persistent Employment Disparities Matter for the Economy's Health : a speech at \"Disparities in the Labor Market: What Are We Missing?\" a research conference sponsored by the Board of ," Speech 970, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    7. Julie L. Hotchkiss & Robert E. Moore, 2018. "Some Like It Hot: Assessing Longer-Term Labor Market Benefits from a High-Pressure Economy," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2018-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    8. Daly, Mary C. & Hobijn, Bart & Pedtke, Joseph H., 2020. "Labor market dynamics and black–white earnings gaps," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 186(C).
    9. Lael Brainard, 2017. "Labor Market Disparities and Economic Performance : a speech at \"Banking and the Economy: A Forum for Minority Bankers,\" a conference hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Kan," Speech 972, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    10. Tomaz Cajner & John M. Coglianese & Joshua Montes, 2021. "The Long-Lived Cyclicality of the Labor Force Participation Rate," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2021-047, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    11. Richard H. Clarida, 2019. "The Federal Reserve's Review of Its Monetary Policy Strategy, Tools, and Communication Practices : a speech at the \"Fed Listens: Distributional Consequences of the Cycle and Monetary Policy\&quo," Speech 1054, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    12. Karl David Boulware & Kenneth N. Kuttner, 2018. "Labor market conditions and charges of discrimination: Is there a link?," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2018-007, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
    13. Kyle Fee, 2021. "Economic Inclusion 2000–2020: Labor Market Trends by Race in the US and States," Economic Commentary, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, vol. 2021(06), pages 1-11, March.
    14. Cordoba, Juan C. & Isojärvi, Anni & Li, Haoran, 2020. "Equilibrium Unemployment: The Role Of Discrimination," ISU General Staff Papers 202011140800001116, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    15. Joshua Montes, 2018. "CBO’s Projection of Labor Force Participation Rates: Working Paper 2018-04," Working Papers 53616, Congressional Budget Office.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Business Cycle; Discrimination; Inequality; Labor Force Participation; Racial Disparities; Unemployment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J00 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - General
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination

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