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San Francisco leads the country in African-American employment disparity

March 14, 2017

by Camden Avery

San Francisco may no longer be one of the nation’s top-ranked cities for income disparity, but a study released last week by the Brookings Institution painted a stark picture of the job landscape for Black San Franciscans, as compared to the city as a whole.

This rally in San Francisco on March 5, 2015, was part of the Fed Up campaign to persuade the Federal Reserve not to raise interest rates until the recovery reaches all Americans. The campaign asks, “Do Black Lives Matter to the Federal Reserve?” – Photo: Center for Popular Democracy

The study, a comparative index of employment among 18-to-64-year-olds in localities with more than 500,000 people, indexed the highest and lowest national employment rates by region, and then compared employment rates in those same regions by race – white, Black, Latino and Asian.

While San Francisco has the ninth-highest general employment rate in the country (79 percent), it also has the highest employment disparity between Blacks and whites in the country.

Eighty-four percent of white San Franciscans are employed, compared to 53 percent of Black San Franciscans.

The only area with a lower percentage of employed working-age Black people than San Francisco was Detroit – which has an employment rate for Blacks of 50 percent. However, Detroit’s general employment rate is 51 percent, meaning that the racial disparity for Blacks is essentially nil.

The numbers are especially striking because only 4 percent of San Franciscans in 2015 were Black – a number that’s been declining for decades.

While San Francisco has the ninth-highest general employment rate in the country (79 percent), it also has the highest employment disparity between Blacks and whites in the country. Eighty-four percent of white San Franciscans are employed, compared to 53 percent of Black San Franciscans.

The only other national city with a Black-to-white employment disparity that rivaled San Francisco’s was Chicago, with a 27 percent spread (83 to 56 percent white-to-Black).

Employment rates for Asian and Latino residents in San Francisco didn’t rank in the highest or lowest 15 nationally, according to the report.

The takeaway, the study’s authors said, was that “positive top-line employment numbers at the national or regional levels do not tell the whole story.” They called for the urgency of “complex, long-term work of devising and delivering more inclusive economic growth strategies.”

Camden Avery writes for Hoodline, where this story first appeared. To contact him, email feedback@hoodline.com.

One thought on “San Francisco leads the country in African-American employment disparity

  1. Ben Warner

    I agree with your point of view. A comparative index of employment among 18-to-64-year-olds in localities with more than 500,000 people, indexed the highest and lowest national employment rates. I have been working from Finance Dept and my overall experience in this field is 8 years and i am still in the same position. Because of i have no Master's Degree to having change my career growth. My boss asked me to buy a degree to get promoted and i contacted. Well, Today i have a Masters Degree and a much better position in my company.

    Reply

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