February 21, 2024

African Americans represent about 13 percent of the workforce and about 35 to 48 percent of the occupations where they’re ghettoized. Notably, there are no longer any jobs that are so “Black” that Blacks represent the majority, as they once did in low-paying jobs such as housekeeper, Pullman porter (an occupation that no longer exists), or sharecropper (ditto). That’s the good news. The bad news is that the jobs where Blacks do cluster (albeit to a lesser extent) are still mostly lower-wage positions: Postal Service mail sorter and processor (as noted, $49,130); nursing assistant ($35,760); security guard ($34,750); Postal Service clerk ($56,200); and probation officer ($59,860). Only this last meets or exceeds the median weekly wage for all workers (about $58,000 on an annualized basis).

White people represent about 77 percent of the workforce, limiting the degree to which they can be overrepresented within any given occupation. But the BLS gives it—well, I was going to say “the old college try,” but according to the statistics you typically don’t need more than a high school degree to be, say, John Dutton, the rancher Kevin Costner plays on Yellowstone. (A faulty example, perhaps, because Dutton clearly makes a lot more than the median $75,760 for agricultural managers.) The whitest occupations overrepresent whites by fewer than 20 percentage points simply because white workers are hard to avoid. But these whitest occupations are all about 95 to 96 percent white, which no matter how you cut it is occupational ghettoization.

The five whitest jobs are not necessarily more highly paid than the five Blackest or most Latino jobs. Granted, cost estimators (office workers who calculate, according to the BLS, “the time, money, materials, and labor required to make a product or provide a service”), earn a median $71,200, just a bit below John Dutton and his fellow agricultural managers. (Unlike agricultural managers, cost estimators generally must have a college degree.) But neither of the next two whitest occupations pays much: miscellaneous construction and related worker ($44,890) and surveying and mapping technician ($47,180). The fifth-whitest job is property appraiser and assessor. It pays a median $61,560 and, like cost estimator, requires a college degree.