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DIVERSITY IN THE legal profession: the data

Employed Persons by Occupation and Race

About the Data

Overview: This data, compiled by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), describes labor force characteristics by race and ethnicity, and is based on the Current Population Survey (aka the “household survey”), which is administered each month to approximately 60,000 households. The household survey is conducted using a combination of live telephone and in-person interviews with household respondents. The monthly surveys are then used to compile annual averages, and seasonal adjustments are also made before finalizing the data. For more information, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1

    1. Question: How does the household survey capture race?
    2. Answer: The household survey uses the following categories to describe a person’s race: (1) Black or African American, (2) White, (3) Asian, (4) American Indian or Alaska Native and (5) Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. Since 2003, people who identify more than one race are tabulated separately in the category, Two or More Races.

 Question 2

    1. Question: Why does the data above exclude estimates for certain groups?
    2. Answer: Most BLS publications do not show separate estimates for the American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and Two or More Races groups because the number of survey respondents is too small to develop estimates of sufficient quality. People in these groups are included in all totals.

 Question 3

    1. Question: Why don’t the aggregate percentages for a given year and occupation total to 100%?
    2. Answer: Race group data will not sum to total in most BLS publications. Most Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publications of CPS data show only selected race groups: White, Black or African American, and Asian. These three groups will not sum to the total (or 100 percent) because the total includes smaller race groups not shown separately: American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and Two or More Races.

 Question 4

    1. Question: Is the data for a given occupation comparable to the data for that same occupation for prior years?
    2. Answer: It depends.

Question 5

    1. Question: Does the household survey suggest that racial discrimination exists in certain occupations?
    2. Answer: According to the BLS, discrimination may be one of several factors that explains the representation of certain groups within certain occupations. In the 2018 BLS report,[1] the BLS noted that “Labor market differences among the race and ethnicity groups are associated with many factors, [which] include variations in educational attainment across the groups; the occupations and industries in which the groups work; the geographic areas of the country in which the groups are concentrated, including whether they tend to reside in urban or rural settings; and the degree of discrimination encountered in the workplace.”

[1] See https://www.bls.gov/opub/reports/race-and-ethnicity/2018/home.htm


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