Updated Feb 12, 2022 - Health

Black women face structural racism in health care jobs

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Black women are more widely represented in health care than any other demographic group, yet they're concentrated in its lowest-wage and most hazardous jobs, according to a study published yesterday in Health Affairs.

Why it matters: The study was among several examining racism and health in Health Affairs released Monday in the medical journal's first issue devoted entirely to the topic.

By the numbers: The study, led by the University of Minnesota, used data from the American Community Survey and found that while Black women make up about 7% of the U.S. labor force, they make up nearly 14% of the health care workforce.

  • Overall, about 23% of Black women in the labor force work in health care, and 65% work in licensed practical nurse or aide occupations. 40% work in long-term care.

What they're saying: "Structural racism in the labor market, linked to historical legacies of slavery and domestic service, has had a strong impact on shaping the health care workforce," the authors write.

  • The authors call for raising wages across the low-wage end of the sector, making more accessible career ladders, and addressing racism in the workforce pipeline.

Editor's note: This story originally published on Feb. 8.

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