Has the adoption of “new governance” reforms over the last two decades eroded the public sector as a long-standing occupational niche for African Americans? Utilizing data from the General Social Survey, we address this issue in the context of earnings “returns” to three levels of job authority for African American men and women relative to their White counterparts. Findings, derived from analyses of three waves of the General Social Survey, indicate that the acceleration of this “business model” of work organization in the public sector has had relatively profound and negative consequences for African American income. Specifically, racial parity in earnings returns at all levels of authority in the “pre-reform” period (1992–1994) progressively eroded during “early reform” (2000–2002) and then even more so during the “late reform” (2010–2012) period. Much of this growing public sector disadvantage—a disadvantage that is approaching that seen in the private sector—is driven largely by income gaps between White and African American men, although a similar (though smaller) racial gap is witnessed among women. We conclude by discussing the occupational niche status of public sector work for African Americans, calling for further analyses of the growing inequality patterns identified in our analyses, and drawing attention to the implications for contemporary racial disadvantages.
- Public Sector
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Sociology and Political Science