Economic Snapshot | Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy (PREE)

Native Americans Are Less Likely to Be Employed Than Whites in Nearly Every State: The Native American-White Jobs Gap Varies by State from 32.7 Percentage Points to 5.1 Percentage Points

Native Americans are less likely to be employed than whites nationally and in nearly every state. But the size of the jobs gap varies tremendously. Of the states analyzed, the largest gaps were in South Dakota and North Dakota, and the smallest gaps were in Mississippi and Oklahoma. The size of the gap in South Dakota was more than six times the size of the gap in Mississippi.

The figure shows the Native American employment rate minus the white employment rate by state for selected states for 2009 to 2011. Native Americans had an employment rate 5.1 percentage points lower than whites in Mississippi—the smallest jobs gap—and an employment rate 32.7 percentage points lower in South Dakota—the largest jobs gap. Nationally, the jobs gap was 13.4 percentage points. Further research is necessary to better understand the causes of this tremendous variation. If more states had gaps merely the size of Mississippi’s that would be a major improvement in the labor market situation for Native Americans. See this recent analysis to learn more about the Native American jobs crisis.

Map 1

The American Indian-White Employment-Rate Gap by State, 2009-2011

State The Native American-White Employment-Rate Gap
Mississippi -5.1%
Oklahoma -7.3%
Texas -7.5%
Louisiana -8.3%
Connecticut -9.5%
Maine -9.7%
Alabama -10.3%
Oregon -11.0%
Illinois -11.2%
Florida -11.6%
Nevada -12.0%
California -12.0%
Nebraska -12.3%
Colorado -12.9%
Idaho -13.2%
Washington -13.2%
New Mexico -13.3%
United States -13.4%
Montana -14.2%
South Carolina -14.5%
New York -14.6%
North Carolina -14.7%
Michigan -15.2%
Alaska -15.4%
Wyoming -15.9%
Wisconsin -16.4%
Rhode Island -16.9%
Massachusetts -17.3%
Kansas -18.0%
Arizona -19.8%
Utah -19.8%
Iowa -21.9%
Minnesota -23.9%
North Dakota -24.4%
South Dakota -32.7%
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The figure shows the American Indian employment-population rate minus the white employment-population rate for 25-to-54 year-olds, 2009-2011, by state for selected states. These data include American Indian multiracials and Hispanics of both races, but excludes the foreign-born.

Source: Author's analysis of data from Steven Ruggles, J. Trent Alexander, Katie Genadek, Ronald Goeken, Matthew B. Schroeder, and Matthew Sobek. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Version 5.0 [Machine-readable database]. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2013.

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