Economic Recessions and Racial and Ethnic Stratification in Employment Insecurity, 1975-2012
Ryan Finnigan, WZB Berlin Social Science Center
David Brady, WZB Berlin Social Science Center
Employment insecurity is one of the most intensely studied stratification outcomes in recent years, particularly following the Great Recession. Employment insecurity is also highly stratified by race and ethnicity. The severity of the Great Recession motivates both an updated examination of these inequalities, and a comparison with previous recessions. Using data from the 1976-2013 March Current Population Survey, this paper analyzes three aspects of employment insecurity: underemployment, unemployment, and long-term unemployment. All three forms of employment insecurity increased considerably in the Great Recession, as did minority-white differences. Latino-white differences resulted almost entirely from inequalities in education and occupational attainment, contrary to black-white inequalities. The increase in residual black-white inequality in the Great Recession was comparable to the 1980s recession. Overall, these findings suggest that educational and occupational inequalities have become increasingly salient for Latino-white differences in employment insecurity. Meanwhile, unobserved sources of inequality remain consistently relevant for black-white differences.