The Demographics of the Jobs Recovery:
Employment Gains by Race, Ethnicity,
Gender and Nativity
Two years after the U.S. labor market hit bottom in 2009, the economic recovery has yielded slow but steady gains in overall employment. However, the pace of the jobs recovery varies across demographic groups. Hispanics and Asians are gaining jobs at a faster rate than blacks and whites, foreign-born workers are outpacing native-born workers, and men are faring better than women in the recovery, according to new Pew Research Center analysis of government data.
For the most part, the disparate trends in the jobs recovery from 2009 to 2011 reflect the rapidly changing demographics of the American workforce. Groups whose working-age populations are growing the most have seen the biggest employment gains. But job growth has merely kept up with population growth for most groups, and their employment rates---- the share of the working-age population with jobs---- are still as low as they were at the end of the recession.
The major findings of the report include:
- Employment and Population Growth. From 2009 to 2011, employment increased the most for Hispanics (6.5%), Asians (6.8%) and immigrants (5.2%). Their population also increased the most-6% for Hispanics, 6.2% for Asians and 3.8% for immigrants. Other groups with lower rates of growth in their population experienced lower rates of growth in their employment.
- Race and Ethnicity. The growth in jobs experienced by Hispanics and Asians was sufficiently high such that their employment levels are about 4% higher now than at the start of the Great Recession in late 2007. That milestone has not yet been reached by white and black workers and their employment levels remain about 5% below the levels at the start of the recession.
- Immigrants and Native Born. The employment level of immigrants also now matches the level attained before the start of the recession in 2007. But that is not the case for native-born workers, whose employment level is still 4% less than its pre-recession level.
- Gender. Men have gained more jobs than women in the recovery---- 2.6 million vs. 0.6 million. Unlike the variance by race and ethnicity, this one is not driven by differential population growth. One reason is cutbacks in the government sector, where women are heavily concentrated, but much of this differential is unexplained. Nonetheless, men still face a steeper climb back because they lost many more jobs than women in the Great Recession.
- Employment Rates Unchanged. Unlike employment levels, employment rates for all groups of workers near the end of 2011 were still about as low as the rates at the end of recession. The employment rate for Hispanics, for example, was 59.2% at the end of 2009 and 59.5% at the end of 2011. The rate had been 64.6% before the start of the recession in 2007.
- Jobs Shortfall by Race and Ethnicity. Although the recovery added 3 million jobs from 2009 to 2011, that was merely sufficient to keep pace with the growth in the working-age population since 2009. From 2007 to 2009, the recession created a shortfall of about 11 million jobs and that gap is still largely present. The shortfall in employment is greatest for black workers (12%), followed by whites (more than 7%), Hispanics (6%) and Asians (5%). The shortfalls reflect the increase in employment that it would take to restore the employment rate for each group to the rate that prevailed before the start of the recession. The percentage gaps for all racial and ethnic groups are only slightly smaller than they were two years ago.
- Unemployment Rate. The unemployment rate decreased from 2009 to 2011 for all groups. But at least part of the drop is due to a smaller share of people activity seeking work. Among racial and ethnic groups, this trend was most notable for Hispanics and whites. Their unemployment rates fell 1.4 percentage points each from 2009 to 2011 compared with 0.6 points for blacks and 0.7 points for Asians. But the labor force participation rate for Hispanics and whites also decreased the most during the recovery.
- Trends by Industrial Sector. A handful of industries were responsible for most of the job gains in the economic recovery. The leading source of jobs growth for Hispanics was the hospitality sector-eating, drinking and lodging services. Both Hispanics and non-Hispanics gained significant numbers of jobs in professional business services, wholesale and retail trade and manufacturing.
The report, The Demographics of the Jobs Recovery: Employment Gains by Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Nativity, authored by Rakesh Kochhar, Associate Director for Research, Pew Hispanic Center, is available at the Pew Hispanic Center's website, www.pewhispanic.org, and at the Pew Social and Demographic Trends website, www.pewsocialtrends.org.