Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Black Construction MIAs

"[W]e calculate that 137,044 black workers are "missing" from the construction workforce in our 25 metropolitan areas. In other words, if blacks participated in construction at the same rate they participated in all industries, thousands of more blacks would be employed in construction."

Transportation Equity Network, The Road to Good Jobs: Patterms of Employment in the Construction Industry, September 2008

Black representation in the building trades has increased slightly over the past 25 years, but not as much as one might hope given all the training programs and hiring targets and requirements. Meanwhile Hispanic skyrocketing participation in construction jobs masks their concentration in lower -wage jobs and markets.

Union construction jobs still pay the best relative to living wages. Unfortunately, union density is falling in many markets. I wish I could say that higher union membership rates are related to higher percentages of blacks in the trades. My highly fallible eyeballing suggests a weak correlation at best.

Maybe we should try harder on the next round of big infrastructure investments to get this right.

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