Historically in the United States, the public sector has served as an equalizing institution through the expansion of job opportunities for minority workers. This study examines whether the public sector continues to serve as an equalizing institution in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Using data from the Current Population Survey, I investigate changes in public sector employment between 2003 and 2013. My results point to a post-recession double disadvantage for black public sector workers: they are concentrated in a shrinking sector of the economy, and they are more likely than white and Hispanic public sector workers to experience job loss. These two trends are a historical break for the public sector labor market. I find that race and ethnicity gaps in public sector employment cannot be explained by differences in education, occupation, or any of the other measurable factors that are typically associated with employment. Among unemployed workers who most recently worked for the public sector, black women are the least likely to transition into private sector employment.

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