This report explores the occupational representation of workers by gender, race, and ethnicity in two settings: in the U.S. labor market overall and in the training that participants in the public workforce system pursue. The study analyzes six different groups — Black women and Black men, Hispanic women and Hispanic men, and White women and White men.

The research finds that from 2017 to 2021, women were much more likely than men to work in lower-wage, segregated occupations. The same was true for Hispanic and Black workers relative to White workers. The occupations in which White men were overrepresented had annual wages that were roughly $20,000 to $30,000 higher than the occupations in which the other five groups of workers were overrepresented.

In addition, training provided through the public workforce sector from 2017 to 2019 prepared women and men for dramatically different occupations. While men tended to choose training for higher-paid occupations in transportation, the skilled trades, and information technology, women more often prepared for lower-paid health care work. Even though the most common training paths varied little by race and ethnicity, those that White workers chose had, on average, annual wages roughly $5,000 higher than the ones for Black and Hispanic participants of the same gender.

The fact that certain groups of workers are overrepresented or underrepresented in occupations in our economy would not necessarily be noteworthy if these patterns were not associated with wage levels. Prior research shows that occupational segregation plays a role in well-known gender and racial wage gaps in the labor market. The study raises questions for consideration about how we might remove barriers and ensure more equitable representation in occupations throughout the U.S. labor market.

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