18. Racial Minorities as a Worker Group in Construction and Other Industries
More than 1.8 million racial minorities (see Glossary) were employed (including self-employed) in the construction industry in 2015, accounting for 19% of construction workers.1 For only wage-and-salary workers, the proportion of construction workers categorized as racial minorities is higher, but is still lower than in most other industries (20.3%; chart 18a). Racial minorities on this page refer to a combined group including all racial categories except “white only.”
Employment patterns in construction suggest ongoing racial disparities in this industry. In 2015, minority construction workers were more likely to work for private companies than their white counterparts (77.7% versus 71.0%), but were less likely to be self-employed (18.0% versus 24.3%). In addition, women accounted for 8% of construction workers who were racial minorities, similar to the proportion among all construction workers (9%; see page 19).
Minority workers are also more likely to take production (blue-collar, see Glossary) jobs. Overall, 84% of racial minorities in construction worked in blue-collar occupations in 2015, while 76% of the construction workforce was employed in such occupations (see page 11 ). This difference is more pronounced among certain construction occupations. For example, among painters, laborers, drywall installers, and roofers, more than a quarter of workers were of racial minority status, yet only 11% of construction managers were a minority (chart 18b). Among minority construction workers, 26% were laborers (chart 18c), 63% higher than the proportion of laborers among the overall construction workforce (16%, see page 11).
Data provided on this page were from the American Community Survey (ACS, see page 15), which classifies race as white, black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, “some other race,” or “two or more major race groups.” “Some other race” includes all other responses not included in the race categories described above. “Two or more race groups” refers to multiracial individuals. The survey respondents were given the option of selecting one or more race categories to indicate their racial identities. According to ACS estimates, nearly 10 million Americans reported themselves as a member of two or more races in 2015, accounting for 3% of all Americans.2 Race characterizes the population based on physical characteristics, whereas ethnicity (see Glossary) considers cultural, linguistic, or national origin traits.2 For instance, people of Hispanic origin (see pages 16 and 17) may be any race, and may or may not be included in racial minorities. Thus, racial minorities and Hispanics can be counted in each subgroup or overlap.
The ACS revised the questions on race in 2008 to make them consistent with the Census 2010 question wordings.2 Therefore, data showing race in this chart book are not directly comparable with data on race in previous editions of this book. Caution must be used when interpreting changes in the racial composition of construction employment over time.
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Ethnicity – From the Current Population Survey and American Community Survey: There are two categories for ethnicity: Hispanic or Latino and Not Hispanic or Latino. The federal government considers race and Hispanic origin to be two separate and distinct concepts. Hispanics and Latinos may be of any race.
Production workers – In this chart book, same as blue-collar workers. From the Current Population Survey: all workers, except managerial, professional (architects, accountants, lawyers, etc.), and administrative support staff. Production workers can be either wage-and-salary or self-employed workers.
Racial minorities – From the Current Population Survey and American Community Survey: those who chose to identify and report themselves as black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, or some race other than white. Persons who selected more than one race were classified separately in the category “two or more races,” and were counted as racial minorities in this book.
1. Numbers cited in the text were from the 2015 American Community Survey and may not match numbers from the Current Population Survey used for other pages. Calculations by the CPWR Data Center.
2. U.S. Census Bureau. ACS 1-year supplemental estimates with a population threshold of 20,000 or more, 2015. https://www.census.gov/acs/www/data/data-tables-and-tools/supplemental-tables/ (Accessed October 2016).
All charts – Averages include all occupations from managerial through clerical/administrative support. “Racial minorities” are those who chose to identify themselves as black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, or some race other than white.
Chart 18a – Excludes self-employed workers.
Chart 18b – Other management occupations in construction were not listed.
Chart 18c – Total may not add to 100% due to rounding. “Manager” includes construction managers as well as other management occupations in construction.
All charts – U.S. Census Bureau. 2015 American Community Survey. Calculations by the CPWR Data Center.
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