The report from the Joint Center, "Broadband and Jobs: African Americans Rely Heavily on Mobile Access and Social Networking in Job Search," was released today 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 African Americans. It found that African Americans 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. It also tells us that ensuring digital literacy and broadband access and adoption in every community is a worthwhile endeavor that will pay off in real terms," said Joint Center President and CEO Ralph B. Everett.
The study's other key 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."
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies released its report in conjunction with a technology forum featuring remarks from FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and broadband technology experts, including John Horrigan, Ph.D., Chanelle P. Hardy, Esq., Senior Vice President for Policy & Executive Director of the Washington Bureau, National Urban League; Ramona Carlow, Esq., Vice President of Global Policy, AT&T; Zach Leverenz, Chief Executive Officer, Connect2Compete; and Jason Llorenz, Esq., Director of Innovation Policy, Latino Information Network, Rutgers University.
Copies of the report are available at the Joint Center's website, www.jointcenter.org
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies is one of the nation's leading research and public policy institutions and the only one whose work focuses primarily on issues of particular concern to African Americans and other people of color. To learn more, please visit www.jointcenter.org.