This chapter examines the role of labor markets in the problems of inner-city schooling. Given the long history of racial discrimination, African-American youth might reasonably have been skeptical about the economic value of education. Stanley Lieberson and others have identified the 1930s as a time when racial disadvantage in the labor market may have increased. Direct evidence regarding perceptions of the labor market is very limited. The chapter tracks the labor market experiences of black and immigrant workers over time. Perceptions of the labor market are likely to have been grounded in the experiences of family, friends, and neighbors. Thus, the chapter gains some indirect insight into how black and immigrant youth saw the economic value of schooling by observing the labor market opportunities and employment patterns of black and immigrant Chicagoans over time. It begins with a discussion of opportunity and discrimination in white-collar employment.
Keywords: labor markets, inner-city schooling, racial discrimination, African-American youth, economic value, education, Stanley Lieberson, immigrant youth, employment patterns, white-collar employment
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