Looking at America’s Segregated Workforce

We looked at US Census data to find out which jobs have the most (and the least) racial diversity.

David Lutherby David LutherJobs - 3 months ago

jobs with the most and least racial diversity

You’re probably familiar with the “American Melting Pot” from your middle school civics textbook, the idea that eclectic immigrant nationalities would coalesce into a singularly American culture. In reality, what we see is more of a salad, with mixed but still identifiable cultures and ethnicities.

We analyzed census-surveyed race and careers data to discern which of the 425 occupations in America are the most, and the least, diverse. And when we look at the American workforce, we see that there’s very little diversity and mixing at all.

Continuing the salad metaphor, some occupations are Cobb salads with very distinct racial clusters.

jobs with the most and least racial diversity

A summary of our job diversity findings:

  • The least diverse job in America is veterinarian: 93 percent of the 41,100 vets are white
  • America’s most diverse occupation is textile and garment presser, employing 28,750 people with a .29 HHI
  • The jobs with the least overall diversity across all races are the ones dominated by white people.
  • The eighth most diverse occupation is “unemployed and last worked five years ago or never worked” with an HHI of .32

A note on methodology

For this analysis, we went to the US Census American Community Survey, which gives a snapshot of the diversity of 425 occupations broken into nine distinct racial groups.

We applied the Herfindahl–Hirschman Index (HHI), a standard measure of inequality, for each of the occupations to gauge the relative diversity of each job . The HHI is a quantitative measure that reflects concentrations of each racial group within the workforce.

A zero would indicate income equality, and a 1 represents perfect inequality, but neither of these is actually a thing in the real world — the HHIs in this study range from .298 to .875, to give you an idea.

jobs with the most and least racial diversity

With the exception of #1 veterinarian, the top tier of the least diverse jobs is more or less dominated by allied health professionals. And notably, almost all of these jobs require some form of post-secondary education.

There are a few standouts, though, like the writers, mapmakers, and morbid professions — but this list gets a bit more interesting when you see this.

jobs with the most and least racial diversity

The least racially diverse jobs are also professions that are predominantly comprised of white people, pretty much 90 percent and up.

Bear in mind that while this chart shows the top ten by percentages, the HHI isn’t necessarily a mirror of the percentage. Because there is a greater number of white people in America, these professions that have overwhelming percentages of white people doing them also means they’ll skew the HHI.

White people are the lettuce in the salad.

Now for the most diverse jobs

First, take a look at the jobs that have the most people working them.

jobs with the most and least racial diversity

On the whole, these jobs are generally pretty diverse. That stands to reason, considering the sheer number of people performing them.

Still, only five of these jobs appear in the most diverse list — which has a cutoff of an HHI below .40.

jobs with the most and least racial diversity

The positions with the most diversity are primarily production, service, and entry-level jobs that don’t require an advanced education.

These jobs also have large employed populations, such as the 1.52 million cooks and 966,000 maids and cleaners. Gaming cage workers (6,161 workers) stands out on this list because it defies this pattern — these are the people in casinos who handle lines of credit and dole out chips in casinos.

jobs with the most and least racial diversity

For African Americans, there’s a pretty heavy leaning towards transportation-related jobs.

What a barber does is pretty clear-cut, but number two on the list (transportation attendants, other than flight attendants) ensure the safety and comfort of passengers aboard ships, buses, trains, or within the station or terminal.

jobs with the most and least racial diversity

Most of these jobs require advanced degree — eight of them, assuming that the software developers didn’t take the non-traditional route of skipping college to gain certifications and work experience.

The outliers are personal appearance workers, which includes manicurists, skincare specialists, and makeup artists; as well as the gaming services workers, who tend slot machines, deal cards, or oversee other gaming activities such as keno or bingo.

jobs with the most and least racial diversity

Most of the jobs on this list represent skilled labor and construction jobs.

The notable standout here is the miscellaneous media communications workers, a profession that is most likely here because it also includes translators and interpreters — 32 percent of the workers in this field are hispanic.

And finally, America’s eighth most diverse occupation: none

The fifteenth most common “occupation” is also one of the most diverse: unemployed more than five years or never worked.

jobs with the most and least racial diversity

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