Native Americans Are Less Likely to Be Employed Than Whites in Nearly Every State

The Native American-White Jobs Gap Varies by State from 32.7 Percentage Points to 5.1 Percentage Points.


By Algernon Austin

Native Americans are less likely to be employed than whites nationally and in nearly every state. But the size of the jobs gap varies tremendously. Of the states analyzed, the largest gaps were in South Dakota and North Dakota, and the smallest gaps were in Mississippi and Oklahoma. The size of the gap in South Dakota was more than six times the size of the gap in Mississippi.

The figure shows the Native American employment rate minus the white employment rate by state for selected states for 2009 to 2011. Native Americans had an employment rate 5.1 percentage points lower than whites in Mississippi—the smallest jobs gap—and an employment rate 32.7 percentage points lower in South Dakota—the largest jobs gap.

Nationally, the jobs gap was 13.4 percentage points. Further research is necessary to better understand the causes of this tremendous variation. If more states had gaps merely the size of Mississippi’s that would be a major improvement in the labor market situation for Native Americans. See this recent analysis to learn more about the Native American jobs crisis.

Source: Economic Policy Institute

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