Workforce Policy

Racial Differences on the Future of Work: A Survey of the American Workforce

Technological changes in the workplace are increasing productivity and opportunities for some American workers, displacing others, and requiring many to develop new skills. At the same time, demographic changes suggest that people of color will become the majority of the U.S. population between 2040 and 2050.

In light of these factors, the perspectives of people of color today about the future of work are critical.

The Joint Center’s new report, Racial Differences on the Future of Work: A Survey of the American Workforce, seeks to better understand how different racial groups perceive the changing nature of work.

The survey, which was conducted by Nielsen Scarborough, is the most extensive examination to date of race and the future of work. The survey seeks to understand differences and similarities across different communities in perceptions regarding changes in the workplace, the effect of technology on work, job security, training to acquire new skills, and preparing children for a changing economy.

Click on the following for the…

2-page executive summary

36-page full report

2-page fact sheet

Key Points:

  • A significant majority of Americans support free college or training as a response to job displacement. African Americans (85 percent) expressed the highest support of this policy, followed by Asian Americans (78 percent), Latinos (75 percent), and whites (70 percent).
  • People of color have a significant interest in education and training. Asian Americans, African Americans, and Latinos were all more likely than whites to be interested in obtaining education or training from all the provided options, including an in-person college degree program, online college, community college, a trade union, and a GED.
  • All four groups cited financial constraints as the biggest barrier to obtaining additional training. The least cited barrier was feeling personally incapable of acquiring new skills.
  • With regard to the most impactful steps schools can take to prepare children for the future economy, African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans were much more likely than whites to prioritize teaching computer programming. Latino and white Americans were more likely to prioritize vocational training. African Americans and whites were more likely than Asian Americans and Latinos to prioritize core educational subjects such as math, science, and language arts.

For coverage of the report see BloombergDiverse: Issues In Higher EducationEducation WeekThe HillInside Higher Ed, and Political Hispanic.

The report was written by Dr. Ismail White and Harin Contractor.

For press inquiries contact