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Author: Goens, Dawna
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1. Goens, Dawna
Doubly Insecure: The Experiences of Blacks and Latinos with Labor Market Intermediaries
Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Sociology, Northwestern University, 2015
Cohort(s): NLSY97
Publisher: ProQuest Dissertations & Theses (PQDT)
Keyword(s): Black Studies; Hispanic Studies; Job Search; Labor Market Outcomes; Racial Differences

Permission to reprint the abstract has not been received from the publisher.

Adults today will search for jobs throughout their careers in an economy where job insecurity has reached even the historically privileged white-collar workforce. Meanwhile at every educational level, minorities have less successful employment outcomes than Whites. African Americans and Hispanics in general experience higher levels of unemployment than any other ethnic group. Broader job insecurity and contemporary racial disparities render these ethnic groups doubly insecure. How then do racial and ethnic minorities get ahead in a climate of broader economic uncertainty for white-collar workers?

I address this question through a mixed methods study of the experiences of Black and Latino young adults in labor market intermediaries (LMIs). Employers and jobseekers often rely on LMIs to make job matches. I combine qualitative data on four non-profit intermediaries that target Black and Latino jobseekers with national-level, quantitative data on intermediary use and job outcomes.

I found that specific LMIs--e.g. schools and public agencies--help these ethnic groups get jobs. Intermediaries can also influence earnings and job satisfaction. Additionally, I found that the effect of using intermediaries does not always accrue equitably. Using schools to find jobs yielded cross-ethnic gains in earnings while using family and friends only harmed Blacks. Next, I conducted an in-depth qualitative study of an organization serving low-skilled ethnic minorities. I found that through an LMI, this group acquired work-relevant cultural capital, and I specify in this dissertation how that socialization process occurred. Finally, I compared the job placement experiences of Blacks and Latinos across four minority-targeted intermediaries. I found that the programs gave elite college graduates an edge in competing for elite jobs, placed non-elite college graduates in the running for elite jobs, and brought high school graduates into the race for good jobs. These stratified transitions revealed that low-skilled workers faced relatively more turbulent pathways to career entry and needed continued support beyond the program period. I concluded that some labor market intermediaries facilitate upward mobility for minorities even if that mobility may not be enough to produce broader racial and social equality.

Bibliography Citation
Goens, Dawna. Doubly Insecure: The Experiences of Blacks and Latinos with Labor Market Intermediaries. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Sociology, Northwestern University, 2015.