In a fantastic piece at The Atlantic, Derek Thompson uses U.S. Bureau of Labor data to highlight how the labor market is more stratified by race than you might imagine. According to the BLS, whites, on average, earn higher wages and face lower unemployment, while blacks and Latinos cluster in lower-paying jobs.

But examining the career fields where whites tend to cluster is both interesting and, for many, a surprising component of labor stratification. According to the BLS, these are the top 20 whitest jobs in America:

  • Veterinarian (96.5%)
  • Farmers, Ranchers (95.8%)
  • Mining Machine Operators (95.4%)
  • Speech-Language Pathologists (94.5%)
  • Millwrights (94.3%)
  • Chemical-Processing Machine Workers (94.1%)
  • Cost Estimators (93.9%)
  • Sheet Metal Workers (93.5%)
  • Aircraft Pilots (93%)
  • Small Engine Mechanics (92.9%)
  • Medical Transcriptionists (92.7%)
  • Radio Technicians (92.6%)
  • Steel Workers (92.2%)
  • Misc. Agriculture Workers (92%)
  • EMTs/Paramedics (91.9%)
  • Construction Supervisors (91.8)
  • Chiropractors (91.4%)
  • Architects (91.3%)
  • Other Installation / Repair (91.2%)
  • Cement Masons (91.2%)

When you’re done looking up what a millwright is, you might notice that many of these “whitest” jobs are skilled construction jobs. As Thompson points out, this is not a coincidence as Trade unions have had a “complicated, and often ugly, history with race that's helped shut blacks and Hispanics out of these highly coveted lines of work.”

But that doesn't help explain all of these numbers. For instance, 20 percent of surgeons are Asian but nearly 97 percent of vets are white. Grounds cleaning / maintenance workers are 44 percent black but groundskeepers are 90 percent white. What gives? Is there anything other than access issues making these the whitest jobs in America?

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