TITLE: Workplace Segregation in the United States: Race, Ethnicity, and Skill

AUTHORS: Judith Hellerstein and David Neumark

PAGES: 54      DATE: April 2004

ABSTRACT: This study focuses on workplace segregation in the United States using a matched employer-employee data set that we have created. Skill-related segregation may arise if skilled workers are more complementary with other skilled workers than with unskilled workers. But because skill is often correlated with race and ethnicity, skill-related segregation could generate workplace segregation by race and ethnicity. We present measures of workplace segregation by education and language (measures of skill), and by race and ethnicity, using simulation methods to measure segregation beyond what would occur randomly as workers are distributed across establishments. We also attempt to distinguish between segregation by skill based on general crowding of unskilled poor English speakers into a narrow set of jobs, and segregation based on common language arising from complementarities among workers speaking the same language.

Our results indicate that there is considerable segregation by education and language in the workplace. Racial segregation is of the same order of magnitude as education segregation, and segregation between Hispanics and whites is greater than both. Only a small proportion of racial segregation in the workplace is driven by education differences between blacks and whites, but a much larger proportion of ethnic segregation can be attributed to differences in language proficiency.

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