The Black Workforce by the Numbers

Do you know the average weekly pay of black men versus black women? What about the percentage of black people in white-collar positions? This Labor Day, take a look at the stats.

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Labor Day, widely considered to mark the unofficial last weekend of summer, is, of course, also an annual celebration of the contributions American workers make to society. What does the black part of that workforce look like? Here, according to BlackDemographics.com, the Department of Labor and other sources, are the numbers:

1. In total, black Americans make up about 12 percent of the workforce. That’s about 18,758,000 black Americans in a workforce of about 155 million people.

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2. African Americans are overrepresented in the federal government, which was one of the first sectors to integrate. Just over 20 percent of the black workforce is employed by federal, state and local governments.

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3. Sixty-four percent of black female workers are in white-collar positions. Fifty percent of black men hold similar positions.

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4. When it comes to blue-collar jobs, 36 percent of black men are employed in that sector, compared with 8 percent of black women.

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5. The unemployment rate for black teens remains higher than that of white teenagers. As of July 2014, the unemployment rate for black teenagers ages 16-19 was 34.9 percent, while the unemployment rate for white teens was 18.3 percent.

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6. Nearly 30 percent of black workers are employed in education, health care or social assistance.

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7. Although black Americans’ employment rate lags behind that of white workers at every educational level, the gaps are smaller for those with higher education. For example, the unemployment rate for African Americans with a college degree stands at 7.1 percent, compared with 3.9 percent for white Americans. Black Americans with only a high school diploma are experiencing a 15.5 percent unemployment rate, compared with 8.4 percent for white Americans with just a high school diploma.  

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8. The overall percentage of black Americans in the workforce, at 61.7 percent as of July 2014, is the lowest among all racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. This is not a new phenomenon: Black unemployment has been higher than that of white Americans and Latinos for 40 years.

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9. The average weekly pay for black men is $653. For black women, it’s $595.

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10. Black Americans make up just 2 percent of high-level executives in Fortune 500 companies.

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Diamond Sharp is an editorial fellow at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.

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