Rising Black/White Disparities in Job Displacement, 1979–2015

Elizabeth Wrigley-Field , University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Nathan Seltzer, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Research increasingly attends to economic insecurity—the chances of losing what one has—alongside material deprivation. An important source of insecurity is job displacement (layoffs). Surprisingly little is known about the racial patterning of job displacement in the United States, despite sustained attention to racial disparities in other economic outcomes. Here, we provide the first documentation of black/white inequality in displacements occurring from 1979 to 2015. We show that, for both men and women, blacks are nearly always more likely to be displaced than whites, but that the black/white disparity has generally grown over time. In particular, excess black displacement was notably low during the 1990s but had nearly doubled for women, and nearly tripled for men, by the 2010-2015 period. The rising racial inequality in displacement occurred for workers with and without a college degree, and during the 1990s, being black replaced lack of college as the better predictor of displacement.

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 Presented in Session 48. Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and Labor Markets