March 1, 2007
Decline in U.S. Manufacturing Hurts African-Americans Disproportionately
For Immediate Release: March 1, 2007
Contact: Lynn Erskine 202-293-5380 x115
Washington, DC: African-American workers have been particularly hard hit by the decline in U.S. manufacturing, according to a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Chrysler’s recent buyouts signal the continuing decline of the U.S. auto industry, which has had a disproportionate effect on the African-American workforce. Manufacturing jobs, particularly unionized jobs in the auto industry, have been an important source of well-paid employment for African-Americans since World War II.
The report, The Decline in African-American Representation in Unions and Manufacturing, 1979-2006, by economist John Schmitt and researcher Ben Zipperer, details the sharp decline in African-American employment in manufacturing and the even sharper decline in African-American unionization rates.
Today, only 16 percent of all black workers are union members or covered by a union contract at their workplace. Twenty years ago, that share was 25.3 percent. Part of the reason for the decline in unionization among African-Americans is related to the decline in U.S. manufacturing. But even within manufacturing, unionization rates have been falling. Manufacturing workers are now no more likely to be in a union than workers in the rest of the economy.
“The share of U.S. workers in unions continues to fall, but unionization rates for African-Americans have declined more sharply than for the rest of the workforce,” said economist John Schmitt. “Black families have been especially hard hit by the loss of jobs in the auto industry.”
The study, which analyzed data from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, found that the share of African-Americans in manufacturing jobs fell from 23.9 percent in 1979 to 10.1 percent last year. From 1983 to 2006, unionization rates among African-Americans dropped from 31.7 to 16.0 percent. Unionization rates also dropped among whites (from 22.2 to 13.3 percent) and Hispanics (24.2 to 11.4 percent) during the same period.