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Hiring Discrimination For Black People Is As Bad Now As It Was In 1989

A new meta-analysis took an inventory of hiring discrimination studies going back 28 years to find, statistically speaking, not much has changed.
Posted at 5:03 PM, Sep 20, 2017

We've all seen the news reports and peer-reviewed articles showing what a supposed "black- or brown-sounding name" might do to your chances of getting hired.

But a new meta-analysis has taken an inventory of these hiring discrimination studies going back a quarter-century only to find, statistically speaking, very little has changed for black applicants.

The study looked at "every available field experiment of hiring discrimination against African Americans or Latinos" since 1989 — in total, that's nearly 56,000 applications for over 26,000 jobs.

After tallying the data, the researchers concluded "whites receive on average 36 percent more callbacks than African Americans, and 24 percent more callbacks than Latinos" with no observable level of change for black applicants from 1989 to 2015.

Latinos saw a "modest" increase in callbacks over the past 25 years, but researchers caution the number of field experiments to examine was small.

The results of these hiring discrimination studies seem to parallel other statistical gaps in black family wealth and income.

In 1967, the difference in median household income for a black family and a white family was $20,000. By 2014, that gap had widened to $28,000. A similar gap persists for college-educated black and white households.

Similarly, in 2014 the median net worth of white households was almost 13 times higher than black households.

And while blacks folks are still more than twice as likely as whites to live in poverty, that gap has narrowed since 1980.

The author of the hiring discrimination study says despite a "liberalization of attitudes" over the years, this more subtle racial bias persists and underscores the need for compensatory policies.

"Discrimination continues, and we find little evidence in regards to African Americans that it is disappearing or even gradually diminishing. Instead, we find the persistence of discrimination at a distressingly uniform rate," said Lincoln Quillian, senior author of the study and Northwestern University professor.