People of Color and Women More Likely to Be Bosses, But Still Overwhelmingly Work Lower-Paying Jobs

By Kenrya Rankin Aug 04, 2015

In the 50 years since the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was created to enforce federal laws that prevent employment discrimination, people of color and women have secured more managerial and other professional jobs that ever before. But they still disproportionately work in jobs with low pay.

Released yesterday, the EEOC’s report, “American Experiences Versus American Expectations,” examines employment in the private sector for women, black people, Native people, Latinos and Asians living in the United States, with an eye to how things have evolved in the last half a century. 

“Despite notable progress in diversity and inclusion in the workplace over the past half century, this report highlights continued job segregation by race and gender, with women and people of color disproportionately occupying lower paying positions,” said EEOC chair Jenny Yang in a press release about the report.

Among the key findings:

  • Management positions have increased. While blacks, Latinos and Asian-Americans each accounted for less than 1 percent of the managers and supervisors in American companies 50 years ago, as of 2013 (the latest year for which there is data) they account for 6.77 percent, 7.39 percent and 5.53 percent, respectively. Native Americans went from 0.13 percent to 0.38 percent.
  • POC still hold many low-paying “labor” positions. When it comes to laborers—those who work jobs that require limited training or specialized skills—the percentages have held relatively steady for black workers, moving from 21.13 percent in 1966 to 18.69 percent in 2013. For Latinos, that percentage grew with the population, from 6.14 percent in ’66, to 29.17 in 2013. Asians followed a similar, though smaller, arc, from 0.51 percent to 4.23 percent. And among Native Americans, that percentage went from 0.42 percent to 0.62 percent.
  • Blacks, Hispanics and women are languishing in service jobs. Service jobs—including food, personal and cleaning—don’t pay a lot, but they are the bread and butter for many people of color. Fully 23.34 percent of blacks in the workforce hold service jobs (up slightly from 23.04 percent in 1966). Just over 20 percent (20.46) of Latinos work in service (4.01 percent in 1966), 4.75 percent of Asian workers (0.80 percent in 1966), and 0.67 percent of Native Americans work in service-related jobs (versus 0.28 percent in 1966). And a whopping 59.82 percent of women work in service positions. 
  • Women have overwhelmingly moved into the workplace. Women now represent 38.57 percent of managers, up from just 9.43 percent in 1966. And they make up more than half (53.23 percent) of all workers in professional jobs that require degrees or certifications to land.