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Education

  • Among people age 25 and older in the labor force in 2009, about 90 percent of Whites, Blacks, and Asians had at least a high school diploma. In contrast, about 67 percent of Hispanics had completed high school. Asians were most likely to have graduated from college; 59 percent had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 35 percent of Whites, 24 percent of Blacks, and 16 percent of Hispanics. The proportion of college graduates in all the race and ethnicity groups has increased over time. (See table 4.)

    • For all race and ethnicity groups, higher levels of education are associated with a greater likelihood of employment and a lower likelihood of unemployment. Individuals with higher levels of education generally have better access to higher paying jobs—such as those in management, professional, and related occupations—than individuals with less education. Nonetheless, at nearly every level of education, Blacks and Hispanics were more likely to be unemployed in 2009 than Asians or Whites.

Occupation and industry

  • Blacks and Hispanics are less likely to be in management, professional, and related occupations— the highest paying major job category—than Whites and Asians. (See table 5.)

  • In 2009, half (50 percent) of Asian men worked in management, professional, and related occupations, compared with 35 percent of White men, 24 percent of Black men, and 16 percent of Hispanic men. About 4 in 10 Black and Hispanic men were employed in service jobs and sales and office jobs in 2009, whereas about 3 in 10 Asian and White men were employed in the same occupations. Black men also were more likely than men in other race and ethnicity groups to work in production, transportation, and material moving occupations. Nearly one-half of Hispanic men were employed in two job groups— natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations and production, transportation, and material moving occupations.

  • In 2009, Asian women were more likely than women in other race and ethnicity groups to be employed in management, professional, and related jobs—about 47 percent of Asian women, compared with about 41 percent of White women, 34 percent of Black women, and 25 percent of Hispanic women. In contrast, 64 percent of Hispanic women worked in service jobs and in sales and office jobs, compared with about 59 percent of Black women, 53 percent of White women, and 46 percent of Asian women.

  • In 2009, Hispanics accounted for 14 percent of all employed workers but were disproportionately represented by a substantial amount in several job

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categories, including construction laborers (44 percent), maids and housekeeping cleaners (42 percent), and grounds maintenance workers (40 percent). Blacks made up 11 percent of all employed workers, but they accounted for about one-quarter or more of those in several specific occupations, including nursing aides (34 percent), security guards (29 percent), and taxi drivers and bus drivers (about 25 percent each). Asians accounted for 5 percent of all employed workers but made up a much larger share of workers in several job categories, including medical scientists (33 percent), computer software engineers (27 percent), and physicians and surgeons (16 percent). (See table 6.)

  • By industry, black workers were overrepresented in education and health services, transportation and utilities, and public administration in 2009. Hispanic men were more heavily concentrated in construction (19 percent) than White (13 percent), Black (7 percent), and Asian (4 percent) men. Both Hispanic men and women were disproportionately employed in the leisure and hospitality sector. Asians were overrepresented in professional and business services, in manufacturing, and in leisure and hospitality. (See table 7.)

Families and mothers

  • The likelihood of having an employed family member declined from 2008 to 2009 for all the major race and ethnicity groups. Asian families remained the most likely to have an employed family member in 2009 (88 percent), followed by Hispanic families (84 percent) and White families (81 percent). Black families remained the least likely to have an employed family member in 2009 (75 percent). (See table 8.)

  • In 2009, nearly one-half (44 percent) of Black families and about one-fourth (25 percent) of Hispanic families were maintained by women (with no spouse present). About 15 percent of White families and 13 percent of Asian families were maintained by women. In general, families maintained by women are less likely to have an employed member than other families.

  • Historically, Black mothers with children under 18 years of age have been more likely than White, Asian, and Hispanic mothers to be in the labor force. Among mothers with children under 18 in 2009, 76.3 percent of Black mothers were labor force participants, compared with 70.9 percent of White mothers, 68.0 percent Asian mothers, and 61.5 percent of Hispanic mothers. (See table 9.)

Unemployment and not in the labor force

  • Among the major race and ethnicity groups, Blacks had the highest unemployment rate in 2009, at 14.8 percent, compared with 12.1 percent for Hispanics,

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