African-Americans in the American Workforce

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As part of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) year-long 50th anniversary celebration, the agency has released American Experiences versus American Expectations, a report that illustrates the significant changes to the demographics of the American workforce since EEOC opened its doors in 1965. The report, which also highlights continuing challenges in our workforce demographics, uses EEO- 1 data to track employment participation from 1966 to 2013 for several demographic groups, including African-Americans.

Beginning in 1966, all employers with 100 or more employees (lower thresholds apply to federal contractors) have been required by law to file an annual Employer Information Report EEO-1 with EEOC.  In fiscal year 2013, the most recent year for which data is available, approximately 70,000 employers filed reports indicating the composition of their workforce by sex, race/ethnicity, and major job categories. (For more information about the EEO-1 and job categories, please see

  • In 1966, African-American Officials and Managers composed less than 1 percent of all Officials and Managers. By 2008, African-Americans’ participation rate in this category had increased to 6.94 percent. Unfortunately, it had slipped a little by 2013.
  • African-American Technicians was the only group that had a consistent and steady growth from 1966 to 2013, starting at 4.07 percent and ending at 13.25 percent. Interestingly, growth in this category was at its lowest between 2008 and 2013.
  • Between 1966 and 2013, African-American Office and Clerical Workers saw the greatest increase in participation, from 3.53 percent to 15.76 percent, or 12.23 plus percentage points.
  • African-American Laborers showed the least change in participation over the years covered. That rate decreased 2.44 percentage points, from 21.13 percent in 1966 to 18.69 percent in 2013.

By comparison, between 1966 and 2013, overall African-American participation rates in the workforce increased from 8.2 percent to 14 percent (2013 EEO-1 Indicators report). In 2013, the United States’ 45 million African Americans made up roughly 13 percent of the population.  Despite the gains in employment made by African-Americans in the last 50 years, the annual median income of African-American households in 2012 was $33,321, compared with the national median at $51,017.

For more information, read more at the source article on the EEOC website..

Last modified: 02/09/2022

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