The Labor Market’s Racial Divide


Occupational segregation impacts workers of every race, ethnicity, and sex. Black and white workers with similar levels of education are concentrated in different jobs, creating a persistent salary and economic mobility gap.

Occupational Segregation Limits Black Wages


Black and white workers have different jobs for different pay, regardless of education. Despite progress in past decades, the labor market has become more segregated over the past twenty years despite increased college attainment.

Further, this chart shows the differences in both jobs and pay between Black and white workers Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs). Only two of the 10 jobs with the most Black STARs pay above the median wage. For white STARs, eight of the 10 pay above median wage.

While Black workers with bachelor’s degrees are in higher-wage jobs than Black STARs, there is a similar difference in jobs and pay for Black and white workers with bachelor’s degrees.

A Skills-Based Approach Can Move Us Forward


There are 10 million Black STARs. Half of them work in just 25 jobs, only one of which pays above the median wage.

Seven of these 25 roles are gateway jobs, and Black STARs in those occupations have demonstrable skills for higher-wage careers.

Below is a common career progression for retail salespeople into higher wage roles. The current state is a costly waste of talent.

By adopting a skills-based approach, more STARs–particularly Black STARs–could be on a path to higher wages and increased mobility.

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Occupational Segregation Research