Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Today’s Working Class Is More Racially and Ethnically Diverse Than Ever, New CAP Analysis Finds
Press Release

RELEASE: Today’s Working Class Is More Racially and Ethnically Diverse Than Ever, New CAP Analysis Finds

Washington, D.C. — A new Center for American Progress analysis reveals that today’s working class is more diverse than ever before. The majority of America’s labor force is made up of the working class, and it is far different from that of 50 years ago. In the 1970s, 85 percent of America’s working class was non-Hispanic white workers. Today, nearly half (45 percent) of the working class is made up of workers of color. 

This new analysis dives into how the working class has evolved, what jobs the working class is primarily employed in, and what actions policymakers should take to ensure good working conditions and well-paying jobs and benefits for the working class. 

Some of the new findings in the brief include: 

  • Estimates project workers of color are on track to make up the majority of the working class by 2032—a full 11 years before the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that people of color will constitute more than 50 percent of the entire U.S. population. 
  • Women make up nearly half (44 percent) of the working class but are disproportionately represented in the service industry and underrepresented in construction and manufacturing sectors. 
  • Workers with disabilities are part of the working class at double the rate of disabled workers who have a four-year degree. 
  • Tens of millions of working-class Americans work in private sector service jobs such as retail, food accommodation, health care, and construction. 

“The working class is the cornerstone of the American economy. The Biden administration’s industrial policy laws make huge strides to improve job quality for these workers and make good jobs accessible to women, workers of color, and workers with disabilities, but more needs to be done. Improving the quality of these jobs and expanding accessibility will be the key to success in bringing the greatest benefits to working families, but it’s just the first step,” said Aurelia Glass, a research associate for the Inclusive Economy team and author of the brief. “We must go further and ensure quality jobs are available throughout the service industry and all workers benefit from the same good jobs principles to guarantee well-paying wages and benefits, whether you work in construction or manufacturing, or in the service industry.” 

Read the brief here: “What Policymakers Need To Know About Today’s Working Class” by Aurelia Glass

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sarah Nadeau at [email protected]

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