This report, researched and produced by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, provides a history of employment for different populations, updated data on employment trends, and policy recommendations to address the unequal race for good jobs between different populations.

Discrimination is a complex issue with economic, social, and political dimensions that manifest through institutional, organizational, and interpersonal dynamics. For the past 25 years, the net gains in good jobs have been in skilled-services industries and among workers with at least some college education. Educational pathways to good jobs provide important context for how White, Black, and Latino workers fared in the labor market during this time period due to differential gains in educational attainment. The increase in demand for more educated workers accompanied a fundamental shift in the very makeup of the nation’s jobs, including the following insights:

  • Good jobs have almost doubled for workers with bachelor’s degrees and above in skilled-services industries, and middle-skills good jobs have experienced strong growth in both skilled-services and blue-collar industries.
  • Nearly all the net new good job gains by White workers were by workers with bachelor’s degrees or higher in skilled-services industries, while all the net losses were by workers with a high school diploma or less.
  • Good jobs held by Black workers are increasingly on the bachelor’s degree pathway.
  • Black workers with bachelor’s and graduate degrees made strong gains in good jobs within skilled-services industries and also made significant gains on the middle-skills pathway in both skilled-services and blue-collar industries.
  • Among Latino workers, those with no more than a high school diploma have the largest share of good jobs, but those with a bachelor’s degree or higher are quickly catching up.
  • Latino workers obtained good jobs across both blue-collar and skilled-services industries with bachelor’s and graduate degrees, with middle skills, and even with a high school diploma or less.
  • White, Black, and Latino workers all increased their likelihood of having a good job between 1991 and 2016, but equity gaps remain.
  • White workers are more likely than Black or Latino workers to have a good job at every level of educational attainment.
  • White workers continue to be overrepresented in good jobs, while Black and Latino workers are underrepresented.
  • White workers gained more good jobs than their growth in overall employment, while Black and Latino workers gained fewer good jobs.
  • The inequitable distribution of good jobs and corresponding earnings shifted $554 billion to White workers from Black and Latino workers in 2016.

(The report is 44 pages long.)

Major Findings & Recommendations

The report highlights the following findings:

  • Between 1991 and 2016, the share of workers employed in good jobs has increased by 7 to 8 percentage points for White, Black, and Latino workers.
  • The distribution of good jobs among the three major racial and ethnic groups remains inequitable, even though all groups made gains.
  • Black and Latino workers’ earnings in good jobs are lower than those of White workers at all levels of education.
  • Among workers with good jobs, Whites are paid $554 billion more annually than they would be if good jobs and good jobs earnings were equitably distributed in the workforce, while Blacks are paid $202 billion less and Latinos $352 billion less annually because of these inequalities.
  • White, Black, and Latino workers are all earning a growing share of their good jobs with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • For all three groups, economic opportunity shifted from the high school pathway to the middle-skills pathway.

The key policy recommendations are as follows:

  • Expand educational opportunity
  • Reward colleges that enroll and graduate students from underserved populations;
  • Increase funding to community colleges;
  • Ensure that counselors are trained to provide culturally competent counseling; and
  • Invest in the retraining of displaced workers.
  • Promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workforce
  •  Increase the funding and enforcement powers of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC);
  • Promote industry and professional efforts to increase diversity;
  • Grant tax incentives for employers to locate in underserved economic areas; and
  •  Grant economic development incentives to companies that make diversity, equity, and inclusion a key recruitment priority.