Author: Chi Wong & Neil Harrington
Among the subsectors with promising trajectories for Black workers, the one where they have seen the greatest advancement in wage is Chemical Manufacturing. This industry is also one where the share of Black workers exceeds the average across all industries.
Employment Growth Since 2016 in Chemical Manufacturing
Chemical Manufacturing is a broad and diverse subsector which includes the production of everything from fertilizers to paints to soaps and other chemicals and chemical product. The largest employer industry group under this subsector is Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing, consistently employing more than half the workers in Chemical Manufacturing in North Carolina. While the share of Black workers does not match or exceed the share across all industries, it has been rapidly approaching that level in the last 5 years.
Share of Black Workers over time in Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing, 2016-2021
Earnings from QWI illustrates how wage growth for Black workers in both Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing and Chemical Manufacturing has been exceeding that of White workers over the past five years (though a significant wage gap persists):
Comparing Quarterly Earnings Growth From 2016 to 2021 Between Black and White Workers
Projected growth rates come from the 2021-2030 North Carolina Statewide Industry Projections. Average wages come from Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), and are adjusted using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) calculator from the Minneapolis Fed. The industries were selected via LEAD analysis of QWI data.
Pay and labor market outcome disparities between Black and White workers are certainly still prevalent in North Carolina’s economy. But high paying, growing subsectors like Chemical Manufacturing and especially Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing highlight areas of progress and opportunity for greater wage equality. As the first blog in this series showed, however, industries that show promise for closing wage inequities are few and far between. Future work on this topic could seek to understand the characteristics of these industries that enable progress toward more equitable outcomes and identify methods to assist other industries in advancing these ends. For example, a geographic analysis of Chemical Manufacturing firms might find employment concentrated in counties with high Black population shares and local community colleges doing a good job transitioning Black students from coursework and training into employment. Research aiming to understand if dynamics like this exist could provide a roadmap for other industries and create a more equitable North Carolina.