Employment changes by occupation and color, 1950-1975: a regional shift-share analysis



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The integration of minority group workers into the emerging occupational employment structure of the economy is a crucial variable in their search for social equality. Long over-represented in low status occupations, these workers now seek to enhance their position in the social order by gaining an equitable allocation of jobs throughout the occupational hierarchy. The objectives of this study are, therefore, to develop, apply, and evaluate a model which is designed to analyze changes, by color and region, in the occupational structure of the economy. This model is then extended and used as a technique for making regional projections of occupational employment shares by color. The investigation uses a model which is an extension of the so-called "shift-share" technique—a technique which has been used to study the regional location of industry. A closed economy is assumed. The national employment growth rate over a specific period of time is the basis for analyzing regional employment growth rates by color. The model seeks to explain differing regional growth rates by dividing regional growth into several component parts. Components of regional growth are initially attributed to a region's expected share of national employment growth, its competitive position, and its compositional mix. Classifying growth in this fashion reveals the relative regional performance of an occupation when compared to other regions and its performance when compared to the nation. Analysis of these components for the four regions of the continental United States shows that, during the 1950's, both color groups shared in the expansion and contraction of the major occupational and industrial sectors of the economy. Nonwhites in the West, followed in order by those in the Northeast, most frequently display competitive advantages over their counterparts in the North Central and South. Components of regional employment growth are, in a second instance, attributed to a region's share of national employment growth, its all-occupation growth gap, and its local compositional mix. This system of classifying growth reveals relative contribution that workers of a particular occupation and color made to employment growth in their region. This criterion is used to categorize all major occupational groups in the four regions. Again, nonwhites in the West show substantial relative contributions to employment growth in most occupations. Lastly, shift-share methodology is extended and adapted to project employment shares in the South for 1975- Projections for that year suggest southern nonwhites will have an occupational distribution of employment which is inferior to the distribution of all southern workers. Comparison of southern nonwhite projections with projections of nonwhite employment for the United States as a vrhole again suggest that southern nonwhites will have an inferior distribution of employment shares in 1975. The methodology developed in this study probably is its major contribution. The versatility of the shift-share technique is not lost in the suggested extensions of the model. All levels of regional employment disaggregation are readily analyzed in terms of the model. Employment growth rates of several ethnically distinguishable work groups may be simultaneously fit into the framework of the analysis.