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Robert J. Shapiro releases policy paper: "Changes in the Educational, Racial and Ethnic Composition of U.S. Employment, January 2008 to August 2018, and the Debate over Diversity in the U.S. Economy"

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Americans are caught in a fierce political struggle today over a border wall intended to discourage immigration from Latin America. It’s part of a long ongoing debate about the costs and benefits of various forms of diversity in the United States. As we prepare for the longest government shutdown in history over this issue, we should ask, “Why does President Donald Trump bet so much of his political capital on building a wall to keep out Hispanic immigrants? Why do his promises of building a wall and driving down immigration resonate more with his followers than his other issues and promises?”

Robert J. Shapiro, Senior Policy Scholar, has conducted a study “Changes in the Educational, Racial and Ethnic Composition of U.S. Employment, January 2008 to August 2018, and the Debate over Diversity in the U.S. Economy,” that provides some answers.

In this study, Shapiro documents how labor markets have reshuffled the educational, racial, and ethnic composition of U.S. employment over the current business cycle. Across most educational levels, the numbers of employed Hispanics, Asians and, to a lesser degree, African Americans rose sharply from January 2008 to August 2018 — while the number of employed whites fell sharply at most educational levels. His results and analysis provide new economic insight into why the President’s political attacks on immigrants currently resonate with many non-college-educated white Americans.