Black middle-class workers, mostly female, will be hardest hit by cuts in pension and healthcare benefits, according to a report from the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers by Professor Jeffrey Keefe. African-Americans, according to Keefe’s study, earn 93 percent more in the public sector than they do in the private sector: $38,091 vs. $19,698.
African-American workers with a high degree of educational attainment — bachelors degree or higher — are far more represented in the public sector than they are in the private sector. What’s more, according to Keefe, the public sector employs five times the proportion of the public sector as the private sector. About 40 percent of black workers employed in the public sector are professionals, and 36 percent are office and administrative personnel. Black females account for 78 percent of the black public-sector labor force, compared with 53 percent of the private-sector black workforce.
“Public sector jobs have served as the gateway to the middle class for thousands of black New Jerseyans,” said Keefe, who noted that those jobs are now threatened. Ben Jealous, president of the NJ NAACP, added that the “recession will never end if benefits and wages continue to decline.”