WASHINGTON — In the last 50 years, women and minorities have made huge strides in entering professional fields and management, according to a new report released Monday by the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission.
In 2013, the most recent year for data, more than half of professional jobs in the U.S. private sector (typically those requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher) were held by women. In 1966, that number was just 14 percent.
And 50 years ago, Asian-Americans, African-Americans and Hispanics each made up less than 1 percent of the managers and bosses in American companies. Today, those ratios have increased between five- and sevenfold, according to the report.
The report, “American Experiences versus American Expectations,” celebrates the 50th anniversary of the EEOC, the government’s watchdog agency for protecting equal opportunity in the workplace. It breaks down employer-reported data for nine kinds of jobs, from executives to laborers, and looks at the trends in how those jobs have been filled by five groups over the years: African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, American Indians and Alaskan Natives, and women.
While there remains rampant discrimination against minorities and women across the U.S. workforce, some of the most interesting parts of this report detail how much progress has been made in the last five decades.
For some groups, like Asian-Americans and Hispanics, the rise in labor force representation corresponds to overall increases in the population. In 1960, the U.S. Census tallied fewer than 1 million Asian-Americans. In 2010, that number was more than 17 million.
The number of Hispanics in the United States has also risen sharply in the last few decades, from a little over 9 million in 1970 to more than 53 million in 2012. During that time, the report shows that participation rates of Hispanics in the U.S. workforce increased steadily in all nine categories of jobs.
It wasn’t all good news, however. “Despite notable progress in diversity and inclusion in the workplace over the past half century, this report highlights continued job segregation by race and gender, with women and people of color disproportionately occupying lower paying positions,” said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang in a press release Monday.
For example, the data revealed that the percentage of laborers who are African-American has been more or less stagnant in the past five decades. In 1966, black Americans made up 21.13 percent of laborers — the least skilled and typically lowest-paid of the job categories. In 2013, that number had dropped by just a few points, to 18.69 percent. For African-Americans, 2008 represented a pinnacle of some of the growth rates measured by the report, which slowed down or fell during the Great Recession.
For American Indians and Alaskan Natives, the overall picture since 1966 has been mixed. According to the report, the number of American Indians and Alaskan Native people working in professional jobs soared in the past five decades, from 1,686 to 44,511 in 2013. Yet during that time, the overall number of professionals also climbed quickly, as more Americans got college degrees and went to work in offices. As a result, the percentage of American Indian and Alaskan Native workers in the well-paid professional category is still worryingly low, just 0.38 percent in 2013.
The statistics were based on confidential reports collected by the EEOC from all employers with 100 or more workers, detailing the composition of their employees by race, gender and job categories. In 2013, approximately 70,000 such reports were filed with the EEOC.