Today’s working class is far different than the working class of more than half a century ago, at the height of American manufacturing’s importance in the labor market. Yet widespread misconceptions persist about the people without a four-year college degree who make up the American working class. Throughout the 2016 and 2020 election cycles, the term became, in some circles, nearly synonymous with white workers in manufacturing or skilled trades. A new Center for American Progress analysis reveals that, in fact, today’s working class is more diverse than ever.
According to data from the 2021 American Community Survey (ACS), the current working class largely works in services, particularly retail, health care, food service and accommodation, and building services, though manufacturing and construction remain large employers as well. Black, Hispanic, and other workers of color make up 45 percent of the working class, while non-Hispanic white workers comprise the remaining 55 percent. Nearly half of the working class is women, and 8 percent have disabilities.
The above excerpt was originally published in the Center for American Progress.
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