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ATTENTION, JOB-SEEKERS: What color is your skin and where do you live? Both factors might affect your job-hunting suc- cess.


Sociologist Amon Emeka says, “We know the national aver- age that black people are three times more likely to be unem- ployed than white people. That figure is higher in some cities and lower in others, and we don’t know a lot about why.” So, along with Rebecca Datus ’15 (at left) and Taylor Sczymecki ’15 (at right), “instead of asking what kinds of people do well or poorly in the labor market, we’re asking what kinds of labor markets do well or poorly at being equitable.” Comparing the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the US, the


researchers gathered unemployment rates in 2005–07 (before the 2008 economic crisis) for men in eight racial or identity groups: black, white, Latino, Native American, East Asian or In- dian, Southeast Asian, Arab or Middle Eastern, and other. Some of those groups were pretty small, Sczymecki notes, so it was a struggle trying to get large enough sample sizes. Next they


scoured census data and other sources—such as a big, thick tome called Cities Ranked and Rated—to characterize each city’s municipal budget, school system, public transportation, labor union strength, and other factors. Datus also took an interest in population growth vs. job growth rates; Sczymecki was eager to expand the study to women, for whom marital status, family leave, child care, and other issues can greatly compli- cate their working lives. But all three agreed that the cities’ civil-rights climate, such as equal-opportunity enforcement and affirmative action laws or prohibitions, would be key to their analysis.


And then came the number-crunching. Datus was dismayed that, inevitably, “some of the data we entered (for hour upon hour!) didn’t need to be included in our analysis.” And run- ning separate analyses for each metropolis was a huge job, al- though she says it was both “the hardest and the happiest chore, because once I got the results, I was really excited with what I worked so hard to create.”


FALL 2014 SCOPE 11


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