We find that AIANs had a younger age profile, a higher unemployment rate, and a lower labor force participation rate than the overall U. At the same time, AIANs were less likely to be working or looking for work— Furthermore, compared with the total population, AIANs have had higher unemployment rates and lower labor force participation rates throughout the history of the series comparable data for AIANs are available back to A closer look at how these measures vary by demographic and other characteristics—such as age, educational attainment, and area of residence—can shed light on how AIANs are faring in the labor market.
Bureau of Labor Statistics BLS does not routinely tabulate detailed data on their demographic and labor market characteristics. The AIAN population is extremely diverse; its members have origins in hundreds of distinct and culturally diverse peoples from throughout North and South America.
Well over tribes are federally recognized within the contiguous 48 states and Alaska, 3 and many more are either not recognized or are recognized by states only. In the remainder of this article, we pool multiple years of data from the monthly CPS to examine the labor market characteristics of AIANs. By increasing sample size, this pooling allows for a more indepth examination of AIAN data. Unless otherwise noted, the CPS estimates presented in this article are month averages for the period January —December and describe the civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and older.
In the CPS, individuals are asked what race they consider themselves to be; AIAN status is based on responses to this question rather than on tribal membership.
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We first describe the demographic characteristics of AIANs. Next, we examine their labor force participation by a variety of characteristics. We then turn to employment—focusing on occupation, public-sector employment, and hours of work—and to unemployment.
Finally, we discuss people who, while not in the labor force, want a job and thus may have some labor market attachment even though they are not looking for work. Consistent with other CPS published data on race, the estimates in this article are for people who consider their race to be AIAN only.
Selected statistics for the broader group—AIAN alone or in combination with another race—are not part of our analysis but are shown in the appendix. Because labor market behavior can be influenced by demographic and other factors, it is useful to examine the characteristics of the AIAN population.
This section explores a variety of demographic and other characteristics of AIANs. In —18, AIANs had a younger age profile than the population overall, as they were more likely to fall into the youth category ages 16 to 24 or the prime-working-age group ages 25 to Twenty percent of AIANs were ages 16 to 24, which is 5 percentage points higher than the estimate for the population overall.
AIANs were also more likely to be ages 25 to 54, with 55 percent of them falling into this age category, compared with 49 percent of the population overall. By contrast, 25 percent of AIANs were age 55 and older, 11 percentage points below the average for the country.
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See table 1. According to data from the U. The likelihood of having a disability increases with age. When examined further by age, the differences are even more noticeable. Among AIANs age 55 and older, 34 percent had a disability, compared with 23 percent for the overall population in that age range.
The incidence of disability among younger age groups was also higher for AIANs. See figure 3. Traditionally, people ages 16 to 24 are the most likely to be enrolled in school. Among AIANs in this age group, 42 percent were enrolled in high school or college in —18, much lower than the national average of 53 percent for to year-olds.
See figure 4.
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Most people have completed their education by age In —18, AIANs had lower levels of educational attainment than the population as a whole. Two in 10 AIANs age 25 and older had less than a high school diploma, compared with about 1 in 10 for the population overall. However, AIAN men and women both had lower levels of educational attainment than the national average. As defined in the Office of Management and Budget standards for the classification of federal data on race and ethnicity, Hispanic or Latino ethnicity is distinct from race.
In —18, 15 percent of AIANs were foreign born.
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See figure 5. In —18, AIANs were less likely to participate in the labor force that is, to work or look for work than the overall population— See table 2. However, participation rates varied considerably by demographic characteristics. Among to year-olds, labor force participation is closely tied to school enrollment, as youth enrolled in school are much less likely to participate in the labor force than youth who are not enrolled.
Nevertheless, among both those enrolled and those not enrolled in school, AIAN youth were less likely to participate in the labor force than were youth overall.
Enrolled AIAN youth had a participation rate of The rate for nonenrolled AIAN youth, at However, the rate for all AIAN youth, including the enrolled and the nonenrolled, was See figure 6.
Why is the disparity in labor force participation smaller for all youth than for either the enrolled or the nonenrolled? The reason has to do with the share of youth enrolled in school.
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As mentioned in the preceding section, the percentage of AIAN youth not enrolled in school was higher than that for youth overall. Because nonenrolled youth are more likely to participate in the labor force, the rate for all AIAN to year-olds was higher than it would have been had the AIAN enrollment rate been the same as the national average. For both AIANs and the population as a whole, labor force participation rates were highest among to year-olds.
AIANs in this prime-working-age group had a participation rate of However, this rate was lower than the rate of Individuals in the and-older age group are less likely to be labor force participants than people in the prime-working-age group.
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In —18, As with other age groups, this rate was lower than the national average for people age 55 and older Age is often a factor in explaining differences in labor force participation between groups.
For example, two groups may differ in participation rates simply because they have a different age composition, and the rates of populations with a large share of to year-olds tend to be higher than those of populations less concentrated in that age range.
However, age does not help explain the low labor force participation of AIANs. AIANs have a younger age profile than the population overall, yet their participation rate is lower than the national average.
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In fact, the disparity in participation rates is less stark than it would be if AIANs had the same age profile as the country as a whole. In —18, the labor force participation rate of AIANs was 2.
However, the rate for to year-olds was 7. Labor force participation rates differ sharply by gender.
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For both men and women, participation rates for AIANs were below the national average. In general, people with disabilities are much less likely to participate in the labor force than people without disabilities, 12 and AIANs with disabilities were no exception.
Although the participation rates for AIANs with and without disabilities were not statistically different from the national averages for those with and without disabilities, it is worth bearing in mind that AIANs were more likely to have a disability than the population overall.
The higher prevalence of disabilities among AIANs may be a contributing factor in explaining their lower likelihood of participating in the labor force. Longstanding historical data show that labor force participation tends to be higher for people with greater educational attainment, and this pattern holds for AIANs. Participation rates for AIANs with lower levels of educational attainment were higher than the rates for the population overall.
For example, the rate for AIANs with less than a high school diploma was In —18, foreign-born AIANs were more likely to be in the labor force Although this pattern was consistent with that for the population as a whole, foreign-born AIANs were more likely to participate in the labor force than the foreign born overall, while native-born AIANs were less likely to participate than the native born overall.
Thus, the gap between foreign- and native-born participation rates was wider for AIANs The relatively high labor force participation rate for foreign-born AIANs reflects the characteristics of foreign-born Hispanics, who have higher rates than the foreign born overall.
Foreign-born AIAN men had a labor force participation rate of For the population overall, foreign-born men were also more likely to be labor force participants than were native-born men Foreign- and native-born AIAN women were equally likely to participate in the labor force: the rate was By contrast, foreign-born women in the overall population were less likely to be working or looking for work than were native-born women See table 3.
Note: American Indian and Alaska Native areas include federal American Indian reservations and off-reservation trust lands, joint-use federal American Indian reservations, Oklahoma tribal statistical areas, joint-use Oklahoma tribal statistical areas, Alaska Native village statistical areas, tribal-designated statistical areas, state American Indian reservations, and state-designated tribal statistical areas.
Regardless of where they lived, AIANs had younger age profiles than the overall population. However, those living in AIAN areas tended to be older than those living elsewhere. This age disparity likely explains, in part, the lower participation rate for those living in AIAN areas. The following section investigates some of the employment characteristics of AIANs and how they differ from those of the overall population.
It also examines selected characteristics of AIAN workers by area of residence. In —18, AIANs were much less likely than the overall population to work in management, professional, and related occupations 25 percent versus 40 percent. See table 4. This difference may partially reflect the lower educational attainment and younger age profile of the AIAN population.
The likelihood of being employed in management, professional, and related occupations increases with educational attainment, and relatively few to year-old workers are employed in this occupational group.
Public-sector wage and salary workers . Self-employed workers . Notes: Employed full-time workers are people who usually work 35 hours or more per week.
Employed part-time workers are those who usually work less than 35 hours per week. AIANs were more likely than the overall population to work in service occupations 25 percent versus 18 percent , an occupational group in which younger workers and workers with lower educational attainment are disproportionately employed. AIANs were also somewhat more likely to work in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations 13 percent versus 9 percent and in production, transportation, and material moving occupations 15 percent versus 12 percent.