Employment and Training Institute .

Research Update

Discrimination and Diversity: African American and Latino Access to Jobs and Housing in Metro Milwaukee

Employment and Training Institute research has focused on labor market issues for African Americans, Hispanics and other non-white populations as critical to addressing housing integration and economic concerns in local communities. The Institute has prepared a series of report cards on hiring practices and challenges for Milwaukee area companies and governments, provides customized tables showing diversity (and non-diversity) of employment by place-of-work and residence for every U.S. census tract, and offers critiques of the paradigms imbedded in academic measures of segregation in housing.

Note: To review the racial make-up of all census tracts in the U.S. (based on 2005-2009 American Community Survey data), see the New York Times Mapping America: Every City, Every Block.

  • Losing Ground: 2010 Report Card on Apprentices in the Construction Trade (2010)

    This collaborative report with the NAACP Milwaukee Branch provides race, ethnicity and gender data on 1,740 apprentices working for 443 contractors (341 union and 102) in the Milwaukee area as of January 2010. The data show African Americans hardest hit by the recession's impact on the construction industry as well as by long-standing failures to effectively recruit and retain African Americans in the trades. Too often, African Americans suffered higher job losses and were placed on lay-off in disproportionate numbers. For example, of the 341 union contractors with apprentices, 94% employed white apprentices but only 6% employed African American apprentices. In non-union firms, African Americans held only 6% of apprenticeships. Cancellation rates for African American apprentices were more than double the rates for white apprentices, and African Americans had a higher rate of unassigned apprentices than any other racial/ethnic group. The NAACP's construction committee has been working with the state Department of Workforce Development and local trade unions to improve hiring and retention of African Americans in skilled construction work.

  • Drilldown on African American Male Unemployment and Workforce Needs (2009)

    This report uses the American Community Survey PUMs data for 2008 to describe the employed and unemployed African American male population in Milwaukee County by age, level of education and means of transportation to work. In 2008 unemployment was lowest among men of prime working age (where 12.4% of men ages 25 thru 54 were unemployed, as were 13.4% of men ages 55 thru 64) and highest for teens and young adults (teens including high school students showed an unemployment rate of 39.5%, and young adults ages 20 thru 24 had an unemployment rate of 37.1%). Most of African American males not in the labor force were students (28%), receiving SSI or social security (24%), institutionalized (10%), on retirement income other than social security (9%), or disabled/not on SSI (7%). See 2-page drilldown summary.

  • Health Occupation Drilldowns for Milwaukee County (2009)

    This study examines the credential status of Milwaukee County residents in 7 health care occupations, using records from the Wisconsin Department of Regulation & Licensing. The racial breakdown is presented for each occupation. Among county residents credentialed from 2000-2008, minorities made up 57% of licensed practical nurses, 23% of registered nurses, 16% of dental hygienists, 16% of physical therapist assistants, 11% of physical therapists, and 8% of occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants. See 2-page drilldown summary.

  • Report Cards on African American and Minority Participation in Construction Trade Apprenticeships in the Milwaukee Area: A Two-Year Progress Report by 519 construction firms and 18 construction trades. (2008)

    Updated report card, prepared collaboratively with the NAACP Milwaukee Branch, examines progress in hiring of minority and female apprentices by Milwaukee area construction trade companies. The number of African American apprentices in the construction trades increased 80% (rising from 122 to 219) in the two years since the NAACP issued its report card and recommendations in 2006 calling for increased hiring of minorities in the trades. 85 companies increased their hires of African American apprentices. As of 2007, women still made up only 3.5% of the union apprentices (62 of 1,776) and 2% of the non-union apprentices (5 of 250), with the "largest" numbers employed as electricians (N=14) and operating engineers (N=13).

    The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development now posts statistics on the race/ethnicity and gender of apprentices in each of the Milwaukee area construction trades.

  • Who Gets Construction Jobs and Where? Employment of African Americans, Hispanics and Total Minorities in the Construction Trades in the Milwaukee MSA, (2006).

    Worksite analysis and maps using Census 2000 place-of-work data show where white, African American and Latino workers are employed, allowing a first-time examination of census place-of-work data from the perspective of central city neighborhoods and racial/ethnic groups.

    map of location of construction jobs held by
African Americans in the Milwaukee metro area, 2000 CTPP map of location of construction jobs held by
whites in the Milwaukee metro area, 2000 CTPP

  • How to Use ETI Drill Downs to Map Employment Integration and to Assess Workforce Diversity at Government Jobsites [in PDF] (May 2005).

    This report uses place-of-work data from the 2000 U.S. Census, released in 2004 and 2005 and designed for transportation planners, to assess and compare employment patterns by race/ethnicity at 1,554 federal, state and local government jobsites in the Milwaukee metro area. The report offers a first-time analysis of the presence of minorities at specific government worksites and assesses the extent to which larger government sites meet availability standards typically used by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) for the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws and affirmative action requirements placed on federal contractors.

    The report offers examples of the following:

    • Maps of jobsites for African Americans and Hispanics, compared to whites (for the federal, state and local governments).
    • Numbers of government jobsites meeting availability standards for employment of minorities.
    • Reports on the diversity record of the largest 25 government worksites in the metro area.
    • Methodology for targeting opportunities for increased employment of minorities and affirmative action efforts by government and worksite.

  • Employer Diversity Drill Downs for All Census Tracts in the U.S.

    This website allows users to identify the race/Hispanic origin of the workforce employed in each U.S. census tract by industry, occupation, and type of employer. The data offers a first-time examination of the Census Transportation Planning Package (CTPP2000) place-of-work data from the perspective of central city neighborhoods and minority populations seeking greater business and employment opportunities. Tables (which can be requested for individual or groups of census tracts) also show the earnings of workers employed in each neighborhood by race/ethnicity and by age, the poverty status of workers by means of transportation to work. Populations analyzed include African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and whites.

  • Assumptions and Limitations of the Census Bureau Methodology Ranking Racial and Ethnic Residential Segregation in Cities and Metro Areas (August 2004).

    A monograph by Lois Quinn responds to a request from the U.S. Census Bureau to serve on a five-member peer review panel examining a detailed study by the Bureau ranking major metro areas by their level of racial and ethnic housing segregation. The paper raises concerns about definitions of race used for the study, the "white reference" perspectives imbedded in the indexes selected, the choice of census tracts (rather than blocks), and the reliance on metropolitan statistical area boundaries as proxies for housing markets. The Census study reported on segregation of various racial/ethnic groups but not on "white segregation." Quinn criticized the indices used for their racial bias against majority non-white neighborhoods, noting the origins of the indices in the 1960s and based on concerns of white academics with "tipping," the notion that urban whites will move out of a neighborhood once the African American population reaches a critical mass. Consequently, the academics developed rankings which valued "dispersal" of the minority (i.e., non-white) populations to minimize their effect on any single white neighborhood. Geographer Harold Rose, an African American, observed that the terminology used by these scholars to describe racial changes in neighborhoods [i.e., invasion, succession], while derived from descriptions of plant ecology, "has come to represent the white residents' perception of events in the struggle for residential space, and in all likelihood the white writer's perceptions as well." (cited from Harold M. Rose, The Black Ghetto: A Spatial Behavioral Perspective, New York, 1971, p. 8)

    Quinn called for measures of integration that are multi-racial (not just black-white, Hispanic-white, Asian-white, etc.) and which recognize both minority-majority and majority-minority neighborhoods as integrated. The Census Bureau study on Racial and Ethnic Segregation in the United States: 1980-2000 is available on the Census Bureau website in HTML format or in PDF format. The panelists' perspectives on the Census Bureau methodology are posted on the Census Bureau Housing Patterns website.

Discussion (LQ)

In her nuanced 2004 book on The Failures of Integration: How Race and Class Are Undermining the American Dream, Sheryll Cashin still embraces the dissimilarity index as the primary measure of "integration," leading her to such puzzling observations as, "Communities with few blacks integrate better than those with many blacks. Of the nation's five most integrated urban areas, none is more than 3 percent black." (p. 90) Far more promising are her observations about the diverse urban landscape, writing: "Predominately minority neighborhoods, in particular, offer rich, interesting opportunities for class mixing, even of the one-race kind. They also offer a context for learning that will be sorely needed in the majority-minority America of the future. Whites who choose such environments will have the opportunity to test and stretch their capacity for being among, and outnumbered by, people of other races and, hence, for adjusting to and participating in our nation's emerging demographic reality. When millions of whites learn that the sky does not fall when they or their children are outnumbered racially, we will have finally begun to render the metaphor of America's melting pot a reality." (pp. 327-328)

A 2007 study on Stable Integrated Communities in Cincinnati by Charles F. Casey-Leininger and Erinn L. Green defined integrated neighborhoods using both the dissimilarity index (requiring a score of 65 or less) and a racial percentage (requiring an African American population between 10% and 60%). Casey-Leininger explained in part: "Although we sought to solve some of the problem of how to define integration, we recognize that our criteria for racial integration has limitations. Not the least of these is that it excludes neighborhoods like Kennedy Heights that have a larger percentage of blacks than our upper limit of 60%, but that are in fact stably racially integrated at the block level. Moreover, it privileges as integrated those neighborhoods between about 40% and 90% white, but not neighborhoods between 60% and 90% black. However, the definition we chose has some merit in that it is a rough representation of the range of black/white ratios that many whites will tolerate in racially mixed neighborhoods.... [emphasis added]" (p. 13) A subsequent 2010 update on Hamilton County: Stable Integrated Communities used an African American population between 10% and 80% as the standard for measuring integration.

A 2012 report on America's Racially Diverse Suburbs: Opportunities and Challenges by Myron Orfield and Thomas Luce of the University of Minnesota Law School Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity defines municipalities (and census tracts) as "integrated" or "racially diverse" if their non-white population is between 20 and 60 percent. The authors refer to communities as "predominately white" if they are over 80% white, but "predominately non-white" if they are over 60% non-white. No explanation is given for the discrepancy in the standards used -- apparently any place less than 40% white in America is considered non-diverse by the standards imposed.

The Quinn-Pawasarat analysis of African American-white integration considered residential blocks black-white integrated if they were at least 20% white and at least 20% African American, regardless of which population was in the majority.

  • Racial Integration in Urban America: A Block Level Analysis of African American and White Housing Patterns, available in HTML format or PDF format (August 2003).

    This study raises questions about the white-black dissimilarity index historically used to rank metropolitan areas and its assumptions about the lack of integration occurring in many cities with large African American populations. The study includes preliminary development of alternative measures of integration -- which view white and other racial/ethnic populations as equal partners in the integrating process -- as a first step toward articulating measures that might assist cities in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of their population mixes. In the City of Milwaukee, for example, one-fifth (21.6 percent) of all residents live on blocks that are black-white racially mixed -- that is, where African Americans make up at least 20 percent of the population and where whites make up at least 20 percent of the population as well. Outside of the City of Milwaukee, less than 1 percent of residents in the metro area lived on black-white integrated blocks.

  • Maps of the African American and White Populations in the 100 Largest Metro Areas

    For the 100 largest metro areas in the U.S., the Employment and Training Institute offers 400 maps showing the integrated, predominantly African American, and predominantly white neighborhoods, based on 2000 Census data.

Birmingham MSA
map of Birmingham integrated block groups map of Birmingham predominantly African American block groups map of Birmingham predominantly white block groups
Block groups with at least 20% white and 20% African American populations Block groups with more than 80% African American populations Block groups with more than 80% white populations, Census 2000

Related Studies

  • Planning Document for Employers: Changing Demographics of the Milwaukee Metro Labor Force, available in HTML format or PDF format (August 2003).

    The future of the Milwaukee metro labor force lies in large part with its minority populations. Metro Milwaukee has the youngest African American population among the 100 largest metro areas in the U.S. Its Asian population is 4th youngest and its Latino population is 9th youngest. By contrast, the white population is older than in most metro areas, and many white baby boomers are reaching retirement age. Major challenges will be to replace retiring workers with younger trained workers from Milwaukee and to attract professionals to the metro area from other parts of the U.S. Successfully educating African American and Latino youth is imperative for the health of the metro economy.

  • Confronting Anti-Urban Marketing Stereotypes: A Milwaukee Economic Development Challenge (June 2001)

    An examination of products promoted by national marketing firms indicated that many firms used racial and class-based stereotypes to describe urban neighborhoods. For example, international firms' websites claimed that African Americans in Milwaukee "splurge on fast food and spend leisure time going to bars and dancing," that Milwaukee Hispanics "splurge on videos, long-distance phone calls, cable TV, and theme parks and casino visits," while upper-income white residents were described as "interested in civic activities, volunteer work, contributions and travel." This ETI report compares the spending per square mile by central city residents in racially mixed and non-white neighborhoods with spending in suburban areas to show the concentrated buying power of central city residents. As background, this 2001 report examined the methodologies firms use to develop marketing information on Milwaukee neighborhoods, traced the history of marketing clustering systems, and explored the damage marketing stereotypes pose for Milwaukee and other cities. A paper for The Brookings Institution on Exposing Urban Legends: The Real Purchasing Poor of Central city Neighborhoods (2001) provides a template for other cities on how to address marketing stereotypes and identify economic assets of urban communities.

Discussion (LQ)

John T. Metzger has a useful working paper on Clustered Spaces: Racial Profiling in Real Estate Investment, which offers a detailed history of the evolution of the firms specializing in clustering data and explores the racial aspects of several ranking systems.

In 2001, after Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist criticized Claritas and CACI for using misleading information that discouraged business expansion in innercity neighborhoods, the president and CEO of Claritas reported to the press that his marketing company would remove references to gambling or use of tobacco and alcohol in characterizing neighborhoods. The new stereotypes subsequently posted on the Internet, however, described central city Milwaukee African Americans as "inner city strugglers" who "watch a lot of television and listen to a lot of radio." A major concern is that marketing firms will remove overtly racist descriptions and labels from their cluster reports while continuing to downgrade neighborhoods because they are predominately minority.

For another example of anti-urban marketing stereotypes, see the Congress for the New Urbanism coverage, Beware! Data-fudgers from Detroit Might "Steal" Your Car in Milwaukee, following up on Michael Horne's examination of use of data demographics to "estimate" auto thefts in an unknown "Triangle Neighborhood" of Milwaukee.

  • Purchasing Power Profiles for City of Milwaukee and Metro Area Suburban ZIP Codes

    Using a state-of-the-art methodology, the Employment and Training Institute prepared purchasing power comparisons for central city neighborhoods denigrated by anti-urban, anti-racial stereotypes. The reports, prepared for the City of Milwaukee, show the purchasing power strength of dense urban neighborhoods for common retail items.

    The Institute now makes consumer expenditure data available (without stereotypes) for all ZIP codes and census tracts in the U.S. to assist underserved neighborhoods and minority businesses in identifying spending power of urban markets. Customized printouts may be secured from the ETI Urban Purchasing Power/Workforce Density Page.

  • Neighborhood Indicators of Employment and Economic Well-Being of Families in Central City Milwaukee Neighborhoods

    Employment and Training Institute neighborhood indicators reports, prepared since 1998, identify issues of special concerns to African American and Latino populations. The number of central city residents with driver's license suspensions for failure to pay fines and civil forfeitures continued to show all-time increases, with 4 times as many central city residents losing their licenses over fines (51,135 in a single year) than for traffic violations, driving while intoxicated, and drug convictions combined. State and municipal policies continue to draw African American males into the court system for this "driving while poor" offense.

    The neighborhood indicators also showed very low claim rates for the Earned Income Tax Credit (41 percent for income-eligible married tax filers) for families on Milwaukee's near southside, where many Hispanics reside. Policy recommendations are provided for these and other issues.

Background History

  • Relationships between School Desegregation and Government Housing Programs: A Milwaukee Case Study, prepared for the National Institute of Education by Lois M. Quinn, Michael G. Barndt, and Diane S. Pollard (December 1980).

    School desegregation was initiated in Milwaukee in the 1976-77 school year through a court-ordered city desegregation program and a state-financed city-suburban pupil transfer program (known as "Chapter 220"). This pilot study explored three dimensions of the complex interrelationships between these school desegregation programs and housing patterns in Milwaukee County. First, a field study explored the attitudes of minority families participating in the innovative city-suburban school desegregation program. The survey found high satisfaction with the educational program and relatively strong interest in possible housing moves to suburban areas where children were busing to school. Secondly, the pupil movement under the city and metropolitan desegregation plans was assessed for its impact on segregated residential housing patterns in the community. The desegregation plan implemented by the Milwaukee Public Schools appeared to have negative impacts on racially changing neighborhoods. The highest percentages of students were leaving schools in residentially integrated areas (10-29% black), and schools in transitional areas (30-69% black) were allowed to "tip" to predominantly black.

    The third aspect of the study analyzed the two largest federal rental housing programs operating in the county for their impact on racial integration of schools and housing. The Section 8 rent assistance program, operated by three governmental units in Milwaukee County, appeared to reinforce the segregated housing patterns of the community and failed to complement school desegregation efforts. Scattered site and traditional public housing provided by the City of Milwaukee also impacted negatively on the racial make-up of neighborhood schools in the city. The study suggests the need for more coordinated efforts by school and housing officials if successful, long-range integration is to occur.

  • " Racially Restrictive Covenants: The Making of All-White Suburbs in Milwaukee County ," Metropolitan Integration Research Center (Milwaukee 1979).

    A study by the non-profit Metropolitan Integration Research Center in 1979 found racially restrictive covenants operating in at least sixteen of the eighteen Milwaukee County suburbs. Subdivisions established in 1927, for example, in Cudahy, Shorewood, West Milwaukee, Whitefish Bay and Wauwatosa excluded all non-Caucasian families. In the 1930's subdivisions created in Bayside, Fox Point, Glendale, Greenfield, Hales Corners, St. Francis and West Allis were still using covenants to exclude African Americans. As late as 1958, ten years after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed judicial enforcement of these covenants, race restrictions were recorded for a new subdivision in Greendale. A case study of Wauwatosa, an attractive middle class suburb less than 5 miles from the heart of Milwaukee's African American community, revealed that 51 subdivisions (covering 1/3 of all residential land in the community) were developed with restrictive covenants which prevented non-Caucasians from purchasing or renting homes in their neighborhoods.”


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