Wagmiller, R. L., & Lee, K. S. (2014). Are Contemporary Patterns of Black Male Joblessness Unique? Cohort Replacement, Intracohort Change, and the Diverging Structures of Black and White Men’s Employment. Social Problems, 61(2), 305-327.
Employment rates for black men have declined sharply over the last half century. We use data from the 1962-2009 March Current Population Surveys and linear decomposition techniques to examine the mechanisms generating change in employment rates for white and black men with different levels of education. We find that not only did the overall magnitude of change in employment differ by race and education; but so too did the mechanisms generating change. Black men with less than a college degree experienced sharper declines in employment than did white men and more educated black men. Cohort replacement processes played a more prominent role in employment declines for less educated black men than for other men, who were affected more strongly by intracohort change mechanisms. Stronger cohort replacement effects for less educated black men concentrated joblessness to an unparalleled extent among younger black men with the least formal schooling. Declining employment since the 1960s for this group of men was not primarily the result of economic downturns or layoffs later in life, but rather resulted from the inability of more recent cohorts to secure stable employment. Comparisons of the employment experiences of less educated black men in the metropolises experiencing the most deindustrialization to those of men in other areas reveal that these men experienced greater employment declines not only because more recent cohorts had greater difficulty securing stable employment in early adulthood but also because, within cohorts, they experienced additional job losses associated with aging and changes in the economy.
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