Centering Black Women’s Upward Mobility In the Cincinnati Region

This research provides an in-depth evaluation through a historical analysis on 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 series in the Cincinnati region that completely centers 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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