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Is the Public Sector Declining as an Occupational Niche for African American Women? An Analysis of Wages in Privileged Employment

DOI: 10.4236/aasoci.2018.85026, PP. 444-463

Keywords: Race, Wages, Employment, Women, Occupations

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We maintain that a subtle and hitherto unrecognized form of racial inequality at the privileged occupational level is emerging. “New governance” reform, a rapidly encroaching form of privatization which has altered conditions of work and the status of workers is causing African American women to lose the public sector as the long-standing “occupational niche” in managerial and professional employment. Findings from Integrated Public Use Micro-Series data indicate that—in the context of wages—the new “business logic” characterized most importantly by enhanced managerial discretion, has progressively disadvantaged African American women, relative, White gender counterparts. Specifically, relative parity in wages achieved in the public sector, compared to the private sector in 1996 period progressively eroded across two time points, 2003 and 2010 because of widening racial gaps in the public sector. Further, niche status varies across occupational categories: wage gaps widen more in managerial than in professional positions. We discuss prospects for the public sector to remain an occupational niche for African American women in privileged employment and call for more research on racial stratification in the public sector.


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