When it comes to rates of employment during the biggest economic expansion on record, Black and Brown women are coming out on top.
Since the 2007-2009 financial crisis, the country’s economy has grown for 121 months straight, according to a New York Times report. During this time of recovery, Hispanic women showed the most growth with employment rates for ages between 25 and 54 increasing by 2.2 percent since 2007. The employment rate for Black women grew by 1.6 percent.
The report suggests education and fertility trends could be the reason for the climb in employment rates. The percent of Hispanic women pursuing a degree climbed 5 percent while the percent of white and Black college-age students enrolled have dropped. Both Black and Hispanic women have also seen a decline in fertility over the past years, which suggests women have more time to focus on their careers.
The road to higher employment rates has been a bit different for Black and Hispanic women. For Hispanic women, the journey began before the Great Recession and is linked to an on-going trend toward education.
For Black women, the rate of employment is closely connected to the health of the economy. “That pattern has held in this business cycle: As companies hired steadily, Black workers’ labor force participation climbed,” the report explains.
There are still questions as to whether or not women will be allowed to retain the growth earned during the past 121 months. “Last-hired, first fired” practices greatly impact women of color and jeopardize their trajectory. The Times also noted that during the financial crisis, the employment rate for Black women lost 9.4 percentage points and 6 percentage points for Hispanic women.
“There is still room for employment-population ratios to grow: These are largely untapped segments of the labor force,” said Valerie Wilson, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s program on race, ethnicity and the economy to The Times. “Since there are more Black and Brown people in the population, in the labor force, it’s reasonable to think that these are the groups in which you’ll see the growth.”