How has the pandemic affected Black / African American employment and earnings?

<p>As North Carolina&rsquo;s economy continues to recover from the recession caused by the COVID pandemic, we have reviewed the data from the U.S. Census Bureau QWI Explorer to investigate how Black / African American employment and earnings have been affected between Q1 2019 and Q1 2021.</p>

Author: Jamie Vaughn

As North Carolina’s economy continues to recover from the recession caused by the COVID pandemic, we have reviewed the data from the U.S. Census Bureau QWI Explorer to investigate how Black / African American employment and earnings have been affected between Q1 2019 and Q1 2021. 

Data from this period reveals that that total employment in North Carolina decreased by 1.1%.  Among the reported races in QWI, Black /African American employment was impacted the most with a decrease of 2.8% (about 29,480 jobs).

% Change in Total Employment, Q1 2019 to Q1 2021

Source: Chart generated by LEAD using U.S. Census Bureau QWI Explorer; Q1 2019 & Q1 2021

Based on the Q1 2021 industry employment, Health Care and Social Assistance is the largest sector employing Black / African Americans in North Carolina, with more than 170,000 jobs. Three additional industries with more than 100,000 jobs filled by Black / African American workers include Retail Trade, Manufacturing, as well as Administrative and Support. The industries that employed the most Black / African American workers are Transportation and Warehousing (37.8%) and Administration and Support (34.2%).

Industry Employment by Black / African American Workers, Q1 2021

  Black / African American
Employment
% of Total
Employment
Health Care & Social Assistance 173,379 28.9%
Retail Trade 127,913 24.3%
Manufacturing 110,416 24.0%
Admin. & Support & Waste Mgmt. & Remediation Srvcs. 103,708 34.2%
Accommodation & Food Services 94,618 25.9%
Educational Services 75,411 21.4%
Transportation & Warehousing 67,903 37.8%
Public Administration 53,734 24.5%
Finance & Insurance 40,298 20.4%
Professional, Scientific, & Technical Services 35,360 13.0%
Wholesale Trade 29,078 15.9%
Construction 21,991 9.6%
Other Services (except Public Administration) 18,625 16.8%
Management of Companies & Enterprises 17,536 21.6%
Information 14,053 19.5%
Real Estate and Rental & Leasing 9,600 16.2%
Arts, Entertainment, & Recreation 6,706 11.9%
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting 3,767 15.9%
Utilities 1,768 12.5%
Mining, Quarrying, & Oil & Gas Extraction 221 7.3%
Source: Chart generated by LEAD using U.S. Census Bureau QWI Explorer; Q1 2021

During the Q1 2019 - Q2 2021 period, Black / African American workers saw gains in employment in five industries – Transportation and Warehousing; Finance and Insurance; Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction; Professional, Scientific and Technical Services; and Wholesale Trade. Compared to other reported races in QWI, Black / African American workers experienced a greater employment increase in all these industries.

Industry with Employment Gains by Black / African American Workers
Q1 2019 to Q1 2021

Source: Chart generated by LEAD using U.S. Census Bureau QWI Explorer; Q1 2019 & Q1 2021

Black /African American workers saw the largest percentage decreases in jobs in the Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation industry – although, this accounted for a relatively small number of jobs lost (4,565). Two industries experienced Black / African American job losses greater than 10,000: Accommodations and Food Services lost 21,256 jobs (18.3% decrease) and Educational Services lost 10,680 jobs (12.4% decrease).

Industry with Largest % Decreases in Employment by Black / African American Workers
Q1 2019 to Q1 2021

Source: Chart generated by LEAD using U.S. Census Bureau QWI Explorer; Q1 2019 & Q1 2021

Black / African American workers did not necessarily experience wage gains in the five industries with employment growth. Only two saw wage increases after adjusting for inflation: Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (2.9%) and Finance and Insurance (0.6%). Transportation and Warehousing, the industry with the largest employment increase by Black / African American workers, received the most wage decline (-10.4%).

The industries with the largest percentage decrease in employment for the Black / African American population all experienced wage growth for the Black / African American workers. Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation had the highest wage gains (27.9%) while also suffering the biggest loss in jobs employed by Black / African American workers.

Industry Average Monthly Real Earnings for Black / African American Workers
Q1 2019 to Q1 2021

  Avg. Monthly Earnings
Q1 2021

Avg. Monthly Earnings
Growth Q1 2019-Q1 2021

Finance & Insurance $6,537 0.6%
Utilities $6,420 -8.9%
Management of Companies & Enterprises $5,654 5.0%
Information $5,353 5.8%
Professional, Scientific, & Technical Services $4,958 2.9%
Mining, Quarrying, and Oil & Gas Extraction $4,855 -4.9%
Wholesale Trade $4,155 -0.1%
Manufacturing $3,989 -1.6%
Public Administration $3,941 9.4%
Construction $3,534 -1.7%
Educational Services $3,471 2.1%
Real Estate and Rental & Leasing $3,294 4.5%
Health Care & Social Assistance $3,143 10.6%
Arts, Entertainment, & Recreation $2,838 27.9%
Transportation & Warehousing $2,793 -10.4%
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting $2,718 -3.0%
Other Services (except Public Administration) $2,604 6.4%
Admin. & Support & Waste Mgmt. and Remediation Srvcs. $2,440 7.3%
Retail Trade $2,249 3.7%
Accommodation & Food Services $1,480 0.8%
Source: Chart generated by LEAD using U.S. Census Bureau QWI Explorer; Q1 2019 & Q1 2021; For the analysis, Q1 2019 wages were adjusted for inflation using Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index (CPI)

Note that at the time of publication of this article, QWI has released Q2 2021 data for employment but not for earnings.

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