People of Color are Systematically Underrepresented in the U.S. Petrochemical Workforce

34 Pages Posted: 11 May 2024

See all articles by Kimberly Terrell

Kimberly Terrell

Tulane Environmental Law Clinic

Gianna St. Julien

Tulane Environmental Law Clinic

Michael Ash

UMass-Amherst - Department of Economics; CPPA, UMass-Amherst

Abstract

The burden of petrochemical pollution on U.S. communities of Color is well established, but the corresponding distribution of economic benefits is unclear. We evaluated state-level employment equity in chemical manufacturing (NAICS 325) and petroleum/coal products manufacturing (NAICS 324) using U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission data. People of Color were generally underrepresented in high-paying jobs in both subsectors and overrepresented in low-paying chemical manufacturing jobs, while the pattern of low-paying petroleum jobs was mixed. Louisiana was the only state where people of Color were underrepresented across the board; further analysis found that disparities persisted on a local scale, including in localities providing large tax subsidies for job creation. For both subsectors, the strongest predictor of disparities in high-paying jobs was state demography (i.e. population of Color; P ≤ 0.002). Education gaps did not explain observed disparities in either subsector (P ≥ 0.16). Collectively, our findings reveal that people of Color are systematically underrepresented in the best petrochemical jobs in the United States. These disparities appear to be driven by systemic racism, not education gaps. Regulators should consider that current approaches to industrial permitting, which typically ignore the distribution of economic benefits, are likely to perpetuate this pattern of racial injustice.

Keywords: Employment disparities, Social inequality, Industrial jobs, Fossil fuel, Environmental justice

Suggested Citation

Terrell, Kimberly and St. Julien, Gianna and Ash, Michael, People of Color are Systematically Underrepresented in the U.S. Petrochemical Workforce. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4824670 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4824670

Kimberly Terrell (Contact Author)

Tulane Environmental Law Clinic ( email )

6329 Freret Street
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States
5048655787 (Phone)

Gianna St. Julien

Tulane Environmental Law Clinic ( email )

6329 Freret St.
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

Michael Ash

UMass-Amherst - Department of Economics ( email )

10th Floor Thompson Hall
Amherst, MA 01003
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.umass.edu/economics

CPPA, UMass-Amherst

Department of Operations and Information Managemen
Amherst, MA 01003
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.masspolicy.net

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