Friday, June 19, 2020

In Honor of Juneteenth: Black Oregonians in the Labor Force

This Friday June 19, celebrate freedom by celebrating Juneteenth! Short for “June Nineteenth,” Juneteenth commemorates the 1865 arrival of federal troops in Galveston, Texas, to ensure that all enslaved people be freed. Their arrival was over two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth is considered the longest-running African-American holiday (read more at In honor of Juneteenth, here are some facts about Oregon's Black population and laborforce.

According to U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey estimates, there are about 116,586 residents of Oregon who identify as Black or African American alone or in combination with another race, or about 3 percent of Oregon’s population. According to The Oregon Encyclopedia, Oregon's racial makeup has been shaped by three black exclusion laws that were in place during much of the region's early history. These laws, all later rescinded, largely succeeded in their aim of discouraging free blacks from settling in Oregon early on, ensuring that Oregon would develop as primarily white.

Black Oregonians in the Labor Force
There are roughly 60,000 Oregonians age 16 years or older who identified as Black alone in 2018. Black Oregonians have higher rates of labor force participation (65.2%) than all Oregonians (62.2%) but also a higher rates of unemployment at 10.8 percent compared to 6.0 percent for all Oregonians.

Though only a small share of Oregon's workforce (2%) identifies as Black or African American, the number of Black workers has grown rapidly over the past 20 years. From 1999 to 2019, the number of Black workers has grown by 85 percent, from 28,773 in 1999 to 53,210 in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Quarterly Workforce Indicators data. This is a much faster growth rate than for the Oregon workforce overall (23%).
More than half of Black workers statewide are employed in one of three sectors: educational services, health care, and social assistance (28%); retail trade (12%); or manufacturing (11%).
Another one-fourth of Oregon’s African Americans work in arts, entertainment, accommodation and food services (11%); professional, scientific, management, administrative, and waste management services (7%); or transportation, warehousing, and utilities (7%). The remaining balance are spread across other sectors.

African Americans have the third highest average monthly earnings in the state at $3,786 or 84 percent of the 2018 statewide average ($4,518). Asian residents had the highest average monthly earnings at $5,589, followed by white residents at $4,528. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders ($3,382), and American Indian or Alaska Natives ($3,247) had the lowest monthly earnings statewide.

To learn more about Black Oregonians in the labor force, check out the following articles:
African Americans in the Oregon Workforce

No comments: