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When US companies drug test, they wind up hiring more black people

  1. Basoodler

    A new study reveals some surprising facts about how hiring is done in the United States, and raises an number of disturbing truths regarding both common and institutional racism. The study highlighted that companies that drug tested their employees wound up hiring more, not less, African-American employees.

    A new drug testing study reveals some surprising facts about how hiring is done in the U.S., and raises some serious questions about institutional racism.

    The model used for the study, which revealed that Black employment increased between 7% and 30% in states with supportive laws for drug testing and wages increased by 1.4% and 13%, was designed by Abigail Wozniak, a Notre Dame labor economist. Some may find this news surprising

    after all, African-Americans are hit decidedly hard by the so-called “War on Drug” policies. Despite this, there’s plenty of evidence that Whites and Blacks use drugs at the same rate, while there’s more evidence for White alcohol abuse than there is for alcohol abuse of any other group except Native American.

    According to Quartz, who published the results of the study:

    Wozniak also cites opinion polls that show a stronger support for drug testing from unskilled labor and black workers than from educated White workers. Wozniak said that these numbers seem to indicate that people, on some level, understand the policies benefit them.

    This is just a “first look” at their relationships, and Wozniak is the first to admit that there needs to be more work done to determine just how labor market discrimination works, and how to go about fixing it. However, the initial findings will surprise many people, since they take ingrained stereotypes and show them for what they are — stereotypes.

    Posted by: Josh Kilburn in Class Warfare, Policy, Racism, Social Issues May 17, 2014



  1. Basoodler
    Today, almost half of all US jobs require a drug test, and it turns out that companies that test their employees hire more black people. But that’s not a result that reflects well on Americans.

    Abigail Wozniak, a Notre Dame labor economist, has developed a model to show how the rise of employee drug testing in the United States has affected different populations. What she found surprised her: In states where testing is prevalent thanks to supportive laws, black employment increased between 7% and 30%, and wages for black workers increased by between 1.4% and 13%.

    That’s surprising because in America’s often-misguided war on drugs, black people tend to suffer disproportionately—just look at the statistics on arrests and the controversy over “stop and frisk” policing tactics. There’s plenty of evidence that black and white Americans use illicit drugs at roughly the same rate, though white Americans are more likely than black Americans to abuse alcohol:

    But despite that, according to studies cited in the paper, there’s wide overestimation of black people’s drug use in the US by everyone from police to hiring managers to young black people themselves.

    And that’s why Wozniak thinks drug testing increased black employment: Without the testing, employers went by their gut biases. But when testing became common and showed that black applicants were not actually using drugs, hiring rates for black applicants went up. Wozniak concludes that this is evidence of discrimination against black workers before testing, driven by some combination of racialized belief and ignorance. One other interesting finding from the study is that absent drug testing, employers tend to hire white women instead of black men.

    Opinion polls Wozniak notes show increasing approval of employee drug testing among black people and unskilled workers, and growing disapproval of testing among older and more educated workers, which she said indicates that the people who benefit from such policies understand that, on some level.

    This research is only a “first look” at these relationships, and Wozniak says more work needs to be done to understand labor market discrimination and how to fix it.

    She’ll be grappling with that problem soon enough—next month, she starts a term as a senior labor economist on the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

    By Tim Fernholz
    May 16, 2014

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