White Americans Feel Much Safer at Work Than Nonwhite Americans

Matt Berman
National Journal

A new poll from Gallup shows a fascinating divide in the satisfaction workers feel in their jobs. The poll breaks down opinions by both race and gender. For the most part, there aren't many divergences. But the few gaps are striking.

Here are the responses by race:

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Most of the gaps here are largely minor, even on issues of pay (which no one anywhere is particularly thrilled about) and odds of being promoted. But the last two categories show a big split: Nonwhite workers are much less likely to feel physcially safe at their jobs than white workers, and they are less likely to feel appreciated for their accomplishments. Gallup notes that they didn't find significant differences in the type of work the respondents did, and that it "is not immediately clear" why nonwhite workers would feel differently on safety or recognition.

But, at least in terms of physical safety, some handy government statistics help explain the difference. Nonwhite workers have a similiar per-worker rate of fatal occupational injuries to white workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2010, the rate for black or African-American workers was actually significantly lower than it was for white or Hispanic workers. But, according to the Labor Department, black and African-American workers do face a higher number of nonfatal injuries and illnesses. That's largely due to working in jobs with higher injury rates. In 2010, despite an overall decrease in the number of injuries and illnesses for the group, black and African-American workers still made up 12 percent of all private sector nonfatal injuries and illnesses that involved days away from work.

For Latino workers, worries about physical safety are also born out by the numbers. While fatal work injuries decreased in 2010 by 10.2 percent for native-born Latino workers, it dropped by less than 1 percent for foreign-born Latinos. According to the Labor Department, fatal injuries for foreign-born Latino workers accounted for 17 percent of the total in 2010. In 2011, Hispanic or Latino workers accounted for 11 percent of total nonfatal occupational injuries.

There were fewer gaps between female and male workers:

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The biggest divergence here is satisfaction in the amount of money earned, which is still less than several of the gaps by race. According to Gallup at least, there isn't much of a split in worker satisfaction between men and women. Or at least people weren't willing to admit there was to a pollster.