Black full-time adult workers are less likely to quit their jobs or be laid off permanently than their white co-workers, according to a study in the government's Monthly Labor Review.
The study also found that while full-time adult women workers have a slightly higher overall job-separation rate than men, the main reason is that a far higher percentage of women work in low-wage jobs with traditionally high labor turnover. When full-time women workers were compared with men by wage category, their separation rates were no higher in most categories and substantially lower in the lowest wage group.
The study, based on Census Bureau labor force statistics, was prepared by Sheldon E. Haber, professor of economics at George Washington University, and Enrique Lamas and Gordon Green of the Census Bureau.
The authors, citing studies of 21,000 workers in all industries in both the January and March, 1978, Census Bureau current population survey, strongly challenged conventional perceptions about the job stability of blacks and women. They said that there has been a widespread notion that blacks are more likely to leave jobs or be laid off permanently than whites, and women more than men. Haber said in an interview that this notion may have dissuaded some employers from hiring blacks or women.
The study found that:
Of white full-time workers, 17.6 percent quit or were permanently laid off in 1977, the year covered by the survey, compared with 12.9 percent for blacks.
Of full-time women workers, 18 percent left their jobs compared with 16.4 percent of men.
However, the authors said the reason for the higher female turnover was that nearly three quarters of the women--but only a third of the men--worked in jobs paying less than $5 an hour, where turnover is high.
Comparing men and women in the same wage categories, the authors found that among workers making less than $5 an hour, the female separation rate was 20.6 percent compared with 27.8 percent for men. In the $5- to $10-per-hour group the rate was 10.8 percent for women compared with 11.4 percent for men.
Only in the highest wage category, more than $10 an hour, was the female rate higher, 14.2 percent compared to 9.5 percent. However, the authors said so few women worked at these higher rates that the differences were not statistically significant.
Overall, the authors concluded, "If women who worked full-time were distributed among the three wage groups in the same manner as men, their separation rate, instead of being 1.6 percentage points higher than the overall male rate, would have been smaller by 1.9 percentage points."