As in 1963, Blacks Still Feel Disadvantaged in Getting Jobs

As in 1963, Blacks Still Feel Disadvantaged in Getting Jobs

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Sixty percent of U.S. blacks say whites have better chances than blacks to get jobs

PRINCETON, NJ -- Sixty percent of U.S. blacks believe whites have better chances than blacks to get jobs for which they are qualified, while 39% believe whites and blacks have equal opportunities. Blacks' views are more positive now than they were in 1963, when 74% thought whites had better chances at jobs. Blacks have felt disadvantaged versus whites in terms of job hiring in all but a couple of instances over the last 50 years.

Trend: Blacks' Perceptions of Black vs. White Job Opportunities

The results, based on an Aug. 9-22 Gallup poll of 1,001 blacks, suggest some progress on this front in the 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech laid out his vision of racial equality in the United States. However, with blacks continuing to feel the odds are stacked against them in hiring, they suggest King's vision has not been fully realized in this respect.

When Gallup asked the same question of a national sample in a June 13-July 5 poll, Americans overall were much more positive than blacks about equality of job opportunities for blacks -- 68% of Americans said blacks have as good a chance as whites to get jobs for which they are qualified, while 31% disagreed.

Most Blacks See Equality of Educational Opportunities

Blacks' perceptions about equality in childhood education are more positive than their views of equality of job opportunities. Fifty-six percent of blacks believe that black children have the same chance as white children in their community to get a good education, while 43% believe black children do not have the same chance.

While positive on balance, the results are essentially unchanged since King's days. In 1962, 53% of blacks said black children had educational opportunities equal to whites' opportunities. And today's results are less positive than what Gallup measured from the late 1980s through the late 1990s, when as many as 68% said black and white children had the same opportunity to get a good education.

Trend: Blacks' Perceptions of Black vs. White Educational Opportunities

Blacks are also less optimistic than Americans overall about educational opportunities. In the June-July poll, 77% of Americans believed black children have the same chance as white children to get a good education, while 23% said that is not the case. These views have changed little in the last 50 years; in 1962, 83% of Americans perceived equality of educational opportunity.

Blacks Divided on Equality of Housing Opportunities for Blacks

A narrow majority of blacks, 51%, say blacks have as good a chance as whites to get any housing they can afford, while 48% disagree. This question, dating from 1989, does not have as long a history as the questions on job and educational opportunities. Over this time, blacks have typically been divided or slightly more optimistic than pessimistic about equal housing opportunities.

Trend: Blacks' Perceptions of Black vs. White Housing Opportunities

Earlier this year, in the national poll, 79% of Americans said blacks had equal opportunities for housing, while 20% said they did not. Those views are more positive than the ones Gallup measured in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Many Blacks See Discrimination in Matters of Economics and Justice

A separate question in the poll asked blacks directly whether they thought discrimination was mostly the reason blacks tend to have lower income, jobs, and housing than whites. Forty percent see discrimination as the major reason for these economic disparities by race, while 57% think it is due to factors apart from discrimination.

Slightly fewer blacks now perceive discrimination to be at work in economic matters than in 1993, 40% versus 44%.

Blacks are more likely to see discrimination at work in the greater prevalence of black than white males in prison. Fifty-two percent of blacks believe the disparities are mostly due to discrimination, while 46% believe other factors explain them.

Zimmerman Verdict Had Little Impact on Views of Opportunity, Discrimination

Gallup conducted its recent poll of blacks to update blacks' views of racial matters in the aftermath of the George Zimmerman verdict. In contrast to other matters of race, including the need for new civil rights laws and assessments of how blacks are treated, blacks' views of equality of opportunity and discrimination do not appear to have changed in the weeks since the July 13 Zimmerman verdict, when compared with the results of Gallup's June 13-July 5 Minority Rights and Relations poll. The one possible exception is a five-percentage-point drop in blacks' belief that they and whites have equal housing opportunities.

Change in Blacks' Views of Opportunity and Discrimination After George Zimmerman Not Guilty Verdict, June-July vs. August 2013


Fifty years after Martin Luther King's landmark speech on racial equality, many blacks -- in some cases, a majority -- feel that blacks do not have equality with whites in matters of jobs, education, and housing. And at least four in 10 blacks perceive racial discrimination as a major factor in explaining why blacks have generally lower standards of living than whites, and why blacks are imprisoned at higher rates than whites.

Americans as a whole are more positive about equal opportunities for blacks than blacks themselves are. Thus, Americans overall may see the United States as closer to realizing King's vision than blacks do.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Aug. 9-22, 2013, with a random sample of 1,001 blacks, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of blacks, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

All respondents were initially interviewed as part of Gallup Daily tracking and re-interviewed for this study.

Gallup Daily tracking Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

The obtained sample of re-contacts was weighted to match census demographics for blacks on gender, age, education and region.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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