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Mississippi Is America: How Racism and Sexism Sustain a Two-Tiered Labor Market in the US and Constrict the Economic Power of Workers in Mississippi and Beyond

In a new report, the Insight Center for Community Economic Development demonstrates the consequences of America’s two-tiered labor market in which Black and brown workers and women are denied access to economic security on the job. Channeling the “Black women best” framework coined by Janelle Jones, the “Mississippi Is America” report reveals the economic consequences of racism and sexism in Mississippi—trends that reflect the unequal and unjust reality of being Black, brown, and/or a womxn in the US. The report utilizes labor market data and an occupational crowding analysis to illustrate who is largely excluded from the most-desirable, best-paying jobs and who is crowded into those with the lowest wages and least stability.

Findings include:

  • White men have undue advantage in the labor market and are crowded into occupations that pay nearly three times more than what Black women earn.
  • As more women are hired within a given occupation, their pay for that job declines. 
  • In Mississippi, Black women are locked out of 62 percent of all jobs, the highest percentage among all groups.

“What is happening in Mississippi impacts and reflects America,” said Anne Price, the president of the Insight Center. “Across the country, Black workers and other marginalized groups are working day in and day out to keep a roof over their heads while hitting a ceiling when it comes to accessing financial power. This is especially troubling given the COVID-19 crisis, which is disproportionately hurting the livelihoods of people of color and pushing women out of the workforce.”

“The ‘Mississippi Is America’ framework is a call to action,” said Jhumpa Bhattacharya, Insight’s vice president of programs and strategy. “Mississippi is one of the most disregarded states in the US, and it is almost 40 percent Black. Until we empower all of its people and prioritize their economic security, our nation will never achieve true equality. If the COVID-19 recovery—and our government’s inept response—continues as is, the state’s Black workers will be further left behind, and that’s bad for America.”

Click here to read and download the full brief (PDF).

““Mississippi Is America” demonstrates the consequences of America’s two-tiered labor market in which Black and brown workers and women are denied access to economic security on the job. ”

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