Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity, 2008


  • In 2008, employment among the major race and ethnicity groups, with the exception of Asians, was lower than a year earlier. The employment-population ratios (the proportion of the population that is employed) for whites, blacks, and Hispanics fell over the year, reflecting the declines in employment. In 2008, the employment-population ratio for blacks was 57.3 percent, compared with 64.3 percent for Asians, 63.3 percent for Hispanics, and 62.8 percent for whites. This pattern of a relatively low employment-population ratio for blacks has persisted for decades. (See tables 1 and 3.)
  • Among adult men (age 20 and older) in 2008, Hispanics had the highest employment-population ratio (78.6 percent), followed by Asians (75.6 percent) and whites (72.4 percent). The employment-population ratio for black men, at 63.9 percent, remained lower than the ratio for men in other groups in 2008, continuing a long-term pattern. Among adult women, Asians had the highest employment-population ratio, at 59.3 percent, followed by blacks (59.1 percent) and whites (57.7 percent). Unlike Hispanic men, the ratio for Hispanic women (54.6 percent) was lower than their Asian, black, and white counterparts. (See table 1.)
  • Black, Asian, and Hispanic teenagers (ages 16 to 19) tend to have relatively low employment-population ratios compared with whites. In 2008, the ratios for black (20.2 percent), Asian (21.3 percent), and Hispanic teens (28.6 percent) were lower than that for white teens (35.9 percent). All teenage groups experienced declines in their employment-population ratios in 2008, reflecting—at least in part—the downturn in the economy.


Last Modified Date: December 4, 2009