UMass Boston Offers First Demographic Analysis of Recovery Act Jobs
February 09, 2011
Office of Communications
In a first-of-its-kind report released today, the Edwards J. Collins, Jr. Center for Public Management and the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston examines which racial, ethnic, and gender groups have benefited from Recovery Act-supported jobs during the first two quarters of 2010.
The study found that 90 percent of communities in Massachusetts have at least someone whose job was created or retained by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds. According to the report, people of color constituted more than 10 percent of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act job holders in the state in both quarters, while women held just over 55 percent of ARRA positions in the first quarter, and 49 percent in the second.
The report is based on Recovery and Reinvestment Act demographic data collected quarterly by the Massachusetts Recovery and Reinvestment Office (MRRO). The report, which was conducted at the request of the MRRO, appears to be the first attempt in the nation to analyze the impact of ARRA jobs on racial and ethnic groups.
Highlights of the report include:
- Each racial or ethnic category is represented in both the ARRA and larger labor force in roughly the same proportions.
- However, Blacks and Hispanics constituted a slightly larger proportion of ARRA job holders than among those employed in the larger labor force during the same time period. Hispanics, for example, made up 6.7 percent and 6.4 percent of ARRA job holders during the first and second quarters, respectively, while constituting 5.5 percent of the statewide labor force; and Blacks made up 7.2 percent and 6.1 percent of ARRA job holders during the first and second quarters, respectively, while constituting just 4.7 percent of those employed in the state labor force.
- Women were about two-thirds of ARRA job holders funded by Workforce, Safety Net, and Education categories across both quarters. Women held the majority of housing positions in the first quarter at 67.6 percent, but reversed to just 32.7 percent of these positions in the second quarter.
- Neighborhood analysis of the City of Boston showed that certain Boston neighborhoods – especially those with considerable racial/ethnic diversity – had a greater share of ARRA job holders than others. In Quarter1, for example, 27.1 percent of Boston residents with ARRA-funded jobs lived in Dorchester; 15.7 percent in Jamaica Plain; and 13.2 percent in Roxbury.
The Recovery Act requires the MRRO to report to the federal government on a quarterly basis regarding jobs and spending under the Act. At the beginning of the program, Governor Deval Patrick directed the MRRO to collect additional data, far beyond the federal requirements, including the demographic characteristics of job holders, and the towns in which they live.
The collection and reporting of this data is the first of its kind for ARRA jobs, and is a step toward more data-driven government activity. By collecting data beyond federal requirements and undertaking a rigorous analysis of that data, government agencies will be able to make more informed decisions on advancing policy goals.
“This report reflects our commitment to going above and beyond federal requirements in reporting Recovery Act jobs,” said Jeffrey Simon, director of the Massachusetts Recovery and Reinvestment Office. “Collecting this data provides another way for the public to first understand the impact of government policies, and second, to hold government accountable for results.”
In response to the report, Assistant Secretary for Access and Opportunity Ron Marlow offered the following, “The information revealed in the report identifies two important matters for reflection and future public policymaking. First, it is promising that dimensions of equity – social and geographical, were achieved via ARRA implementation. Second, the information gives us insight as we think through policy approaches to create access to opportunities on the part of those who have been chronically unemployed or underemployed.”
In addition to analyzing the data as provided by the MRRO, researchers at UMass Boston made recommendations on how to improve the agency’s data collection efforts for future quarters. Researchers from the Center for Women and the Collins Center are training personnel from MRRO to internalize their future data analysis so that the data generated in this report can be used as a baseline for future longitudinal analysis.
“In our review of reporting on ARRA spending around the country, this report is the first of its kind,” said Carol Hardy Fanta, director of the Center for Women in Politics & Public Policy and coauthor of the study. “It should provide guidance on a number of fronts not only to the Massachusetts RRO, but their counterparts across the country.”
About UMass Boston
With a growing reputation for innovative research addressing complex issues, the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston’s only public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s eight colleges and graduate schools serve more than 15,000 students while engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service activities. To learn more about UMass Boston, visit www.umb.edu.