Date of Award

Fall 2011

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Rebecca Glauber


Research regarding the growing gap between rich and poor has not wholly considered the dissolution of America's middle-skill jobs (occupations that require training/education beyond the high-school level, but less than a four-year degree). I draw on data from the CPS (1990 to 2009) to uncover the extent to which low, middle, and high-skill employment are distributed among white and nonwhite workers in rural, suburban and urban regions, and how this distribution has changed since 1990. Blacks and Hispanics remain overrepresented in low-skill employment and underrepresented in high-skill labor, although blacks made the most significant percentage gains in high-skill employment since 1990, particularly in the suburbs. Hispanics and rural Americans are most likely to report middle-skill employment, while suburbanites are least likely to report employment in these jobs. The Great Recession expedited middle-skill labor's decline. While both low and high-skill labor increased during this time, high-skill employment expanded far more rapidly.