Amid a pandemic that brought job loss, job recovery, and changing perceptions of the workplace, job satisfaction has remained high over the past year. Nine in ten employed Californians remain very (37%) or somewhat satisfied (53%) with their current jobs, according to the November PPIC Statewide Survey. Shares who are very satisfied declined among racial/ethnic groups (44% Latinos, 38% whites, 35% African Americans, Asian Americans 25%). And even with most workers at least somewhat satisfied, the pandemic exposed a need to address issues around race in the workplace.
Following widespread protests for racial justice in summer 2020, some employers and institutions have taken steps to combat systemic racism at work. But have these efforts reduced perceptions of racial discrimination and inequity in the workplace?
Today, most Californians (91%) say there has not been a time over the past 12 months where they felt they were treated unfairly at work because of their racial or ethnic background; 9% say they have experienced this. These shares remain similar to last year (91% no, 8% yes).
The views of these overall majorities, however, obscure disparities in workplace experiences among racial/ethnic groups, where African American, Latino, and Asian adults perceive unfair treatment at higher rates than white adults do. These disparities are also similar to a year ago.
Views on discrimination among racial/ethnic groups seem to echo job satisfaction. Though shares are small in comparison to those who express satisfaction, African Americans are the most likely to say they are not satisfied with their jobs (13%), as well as the most likely to say they have experienced racial discrimination at work (16%). The share saying they have experienced this at work decreases with increasing age (12% ages 18 to 34, 9% 35 to 54, 6% 55 and older) and income (15% less than $40,000, 11% $40,000 to $79,999, 5% $80,000 or more).
Californians are aware these experiences may have an impact on economic inequality. At 70%, an overwhelming majority of adults say racial/ethnic discrimination contributes a great deal (34%) or a fair amount (36%) to economic inequality in America—a similar share to last December (34% great deal, 38% fair amount). Over half of African Americans say racial discrimination contributes a great deal to economic inequality; about four in ten or fewer across regions and among education, income, gender, and age express this sentiment.
The pandemic continues to influence life and work as well as how Californians may interact based on race and ethnicity; concerns over the pandemic’s influence have broadened with the spread of the omicron COVID variant across the US. As California and the nation prepare for how the variant may affect jobs and the economy, PPIC will be monitoring Californian’s views on job satisfaction, experiences at work, and economic inequality.