Centering Black Women’s Upward Mobility In the Cincinnati Region

Center researchers conducted an in-depth evaluation through historical analysis of Black female labor trends, an economic assessment within the Cincinnati region, and interviews with Black women to understand their economic mobility journeys. To our knowledge, this is a first-of-its-kind research project in our region to completely center Black women and their economic circumstances.


  •  Black women have a high desire to participate in the workforce with a prime-age labor force participation rate of 78.3%.
  • However, with the highest unemployment rate of the gender-racial cohorts, Black women have a disproportionately harder time gaining employment.
  • 26% of Black women have annual earnings below 100% Federal Poverty Level.
  • Black women are predominantly in jobs that do not pay a living wage.
  • Nearly half of employed Black women make less than $15 an hour compared to 27% for white women and 24% for all women.
  • Within the Black female occupations that hold the highest number of Black females, there is a high concentration in health care, retail, administration and food service support, which are also four of the five top industries in our region by number of employees.
  • Black women also experience large wage disparities in these occupation groups when compared to white men, white women and Black men.
  • Black women are not seeing the economic returns for increased educational attainment, as 32% of employed Black women with a bachelor’s degree are making less than $15 an hour compared to 13% of white women, 10% of Black men and 11% of white men at the same education level.
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