The Emergence, Persistence, and Recent Widening of the Racial Unemployment Gap

UCSC Dept. of Economics WP 378

Posted: 25 Oct 1997  

Robert W. Fairlie

University of California, Santa Cruz - Department of Economics

William A. Sundstrom

Santa Clara University - Leavey School of Business - Economics Department

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 1997

Abstract

The ratio of black to white unemployment rates is currently in excess of 2 to 1. We show that the racial unemployment gap was small or nonexistent before 1940, widened dramatically during the 1940s and 50s, and widened again in the 1980s. Using available U.S. Census data for the years 1880 to 1990, we decompose changes over time in the unemployment gap to identify the separate contributions of changes in observable worker characteristics and shifts in labor demand. Nearly all of the widening of the gap during the 1940s and 50s can be attributed to regional and industrial shifts of workers and to declining demand in markets where black workers concentrated. Since 1970, improvements in the relative educational status of black workers would have narrowed the unemployment gap slightly, but demand shifts adverse to black worker more that canceled out these gains.

JEL Classification: J64, J15

Suggested Citation

Fairlie, Robert W. and Sundstrom, William A., The Emergence, Persistence, and Recent Widening of the Racial Unemployment Gap (July 1997). UCSC Dept. of Economics WP 378. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=35799

Robert W. Fairlie (Contact Author)

University of California, Santa Cruz - Department of Economics ( email )

Department of Economics
Engineering 2 Bldg.
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
United States
831-459-3332 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://econ.ucsc.edu/~fairlie/

William A. Sundstrom

Santa Clara University - Leavey School of Business - Economics Department ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA California 95053
United States
408-554-4341 (Phone)
408-554-2331 (Fax)

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