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Study: Blacks are biggest users of online job search

11/6/2013, 12:45 p.m.
Blacks are more likely than the public at large to use the Internet to look for a job, and particularly ...

Blacks are more likely than the public at large to use the Internet to look for a job, and particularly when it comes to using mobile devices and social media for that purpose, according to recent research unveiled by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

The report from the Joint Center, "Broadband and Jobs: African Americans Rely Heavily on Mobile Access and Social Networking in Job Search," was released at a Washington broadband technology forum organized by the Institute and featuring remarks from Commissioner Mignon Clyburn of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The study, funded by the Joyce Foundation, explores the importance of Internet access to job search among blacks. It found that blacks are more likely than other segments of the population to use the Internet to seek and apply for employment, and are also more likely to consider the Internet very important to the success of their job search.

In addition, the report found that confidence in one's own digital skills correlates with a higher likelihood of using the Internet for job search, suggesting that efforts to improve digital literacy would allow more people to take advantage of the dynamic employment tools that the Internet has to offer. This is particularly important given the high and ever-growing proportion of job openings that can be found only through online platforms.

"This study not only underscores the potential of broadband and mobile technologies in driving policy solutions in economically distressed communities, but it also shows the success that African Americans are having in making the most of digital platforms in finding work," said Joint Center President and CEO Ralph B. Everett.

Other key study findings include:

• African Americans rely on social media and on mobile devices for job search at higher rates than the general population;

• 50% of African American Internet users said the Internet was very important to them in successfully finding a job, significantly higher than the 36% average for the entire sample;

• 46% of African American Internet users used the Internet at some point when they were last looking for a job, either by online search, emailing potential employers or using social networking sites. This compares to 41% for all respondents;

• 36% of African Americans said they applied for a job online the last time they were in the job market, compared with 26% for all respondents; and

• 31% of African Americans said social networking sites are very important to job search, which is seven percentage points greater than the entire sample (24%).

"With so many employers insisting that job seekers apply for jobs online, online access is essential to finding work. Closing broadband adoption gaps becomes more urgent when society expects people to carry out tasks using the Internet," said the study's author, John B. Horrigan, Ph.D., senior research fellow at the Joint Center. "At the same time, stakeholders must close gaps in digital skills among all online users so that the Internet can help people turn opportunities into positive outcomes."