The Review of Black Political Economy

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 1–19 | Cite as

Trends in Job Quality for African-American Workers, 1979–2011

  • Janelle JonesEmail author
  • John Schmitt


Economists expect that increases in education and work experience will increase workers’ productivity and translate into higher compensation. We use data from the March Current Population Survey (CPS) to show that over the past four decades, the “human capital” of the employed black workforce has increased enormously, yet the share of black workers in a “good job” --one that pays at least $19 per hour (in inflation-adjusted 2011 dollars), has employer-provided health insurance, and an employer-sponsored retirement plan-- has actually declined. The CPS data show that black women saw a modest increase in access to “good jobs,” but the share of black men in good jobs decreased. Despite improvements for black women, they were consistently less likely to be in a good job than black men in every year in our sample. Black workers at every age and education level were also less likely to be in a good job in 2011 than they were in 1979.


Job quality Wages Black workers Education 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Economic and Policy ResearchWashingtonUSA

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