PSU McNair Scholars Online Journal

Article Title

Occupational Crowding by Race in the Pacific Northwest: A Comparative Study of Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington


In a classic study of racial segregation within the US labor force entitled “The Effect on White Incomes of Discrimination in Employment.” economist Barbara Bergmann, found that Black men were more concentrated in laborer and low skill occupations than their white counterparts and virtually excluded from high status occupations (Bergmann. 1971). In a follow up study “Revisiting Occupational Crowding in the United States: A Preliminary Study “ Gibson, Darity and Myers found similarly high levels of occupational crowding in some blue-collar occupations, high levels of gender segregation in the occupational distribution and under-representation of Blacks in high status/wage occupations. Gibson, et al used regional data from the 1990 US Census to analyze occupational crowding among 59 occupations in Detroit, Michigan and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The regional focus captures many of the localized aspects of each region’s labor market that are obscured with national level data. This study builds upon the previous two by utilizing the same crowding index and similar regional data to evaluate Black occupational patterns in Portland, Oregon and the Seattle, Washington in 2000. This study finds that occupational segregation persists in the new millennium, as there were similarly high levels of occupational in some blue collar occupations, high degrees of occupational sex segregation and underrepresentation of Blacks in high wage/status occupations in both Portland and Seattle. However, Black men and women in Seattle had significantly higher levels of representation in healthcare and clerical occupations. Black men in Portland were slightly better represented in skilled crafts occupations than Black men in Seattle.

Faculty Mentor: Karen J. Gibson