Can More Jobs Heal Race Relations?

In Economy, LABOR -- articles only, The Upshot On

But there’s not much evidence in recent history that racial attitudes are shaped by the ups and downs of the overall economy. Certainly jobs and wages influence Americans’ sense of well-being and their worldview. But attitudes about race relations seem to be overwhelmingly shaped by developments unrelated to things like the unemployment rate or growth in household incomes.

For example, Gallup polling shows that Americans’ racial attitudes were stable for years amid very different economic environments. The proportion of respondents who said relations between whites and blacks are very good or somewhat good was nearly identical in 2002, near the worst of the early 2000s recession; to what it was in 2007, the peak of that decade’s expansion; and to 2008, when the Great Recession was underway.

The survey results around racial attitudes changed not in the immediate aftermath of the recession, when the unemployment rate soared to 10 percent and jobs were scarce, but in 2015, when the economy was back on its feet.

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