Blacks Are More Educated Now, But Get Fewer Jobs Than 30 Years Ago

July 1, 2013  |  

African Americans today are way more educated than they were 30 years ago. In 1979, only 10 percent of blacks had a bachelor’s degree or higher. In 2011, 25 percent of African Americans had a four-year college degree. But blacks are less likely to find a good job in 2013 than the year 1979, a study from the Center of Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) says.

Surprisingly, the number of black workers who possess a “good job”—at least $19 per hour with health benefits and a retirement plan—has declined, despite the increase in education, over the last 30 years.

Economists consistently push for African Americans to pursue degrees to solidify a comfortable spot on the social and financial ladder. Theoretically, the more educated Blacks become, the more attainable the jobs are. However, recent data from the CEPR proves this conjecture wrong. In 1979, when blacks were considerably less educated, 20.8 percent were employed. But in 2011, only 19.6 percent had jobs.

African-American males are more affected by the troubling statistics the CEPR released. Between 1979 and 2011, the number of black men who had good jobs dropped from 26.4 to 20.9 percent. Probably as a result of the evolving views of working women, the number of female workers rose from 14.5 percent in 1979 to 18.4 percent in 2011. However, black women are less likely to have a good job compared to black men in every dimension.

Young African-American workers are also feeling the sting of these tumbling numbers. The median age of black workers in 1979 was 33, but the median age for workers in 2011 was 37. Regardless of age and level of education, CEPR found that black workers were less likely to have a good job throughout all years compared to their white counterparts.

One report titled “Has Education Paid Off for Black Workers” blames the continuing discrimination against African Americans and blacks’ poor bargaining power as the problem behind the decline in employment for degree-holding Blacks.

The African-American unemployment rate increased from 13.2 percent to 13.5 percent in May.

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