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OPLIN 4cast #361: Diversity in Internet job searching

Posted in 4cast

diversityAbout two weeks ago, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies released a report entitled Broadband and Jobs: African Americans Rely Heavily on Mobile Access and Social Networking in Job Search. The report presents data from a May survey indicating that half of African American Internet users think the Internet is an important tool for finding a job, compared to about a third of all Internet users. But among African Americans who had used the Internet for job searching, almost half said they used their smartphone. Is this a good thing? While it likely means they are using social networking to increase their chances of finding a job, it could also mean they are passing up job searching tools that do not work well on a smartphone.

  • African Americans, jobs and the Internet (Talking Technology/Leroy Jones)  “Dr. Horrigan [Senior Research Fellow at the Joint Center] discussed the report’s findings at length, relating it to other data concerning broadband adoption and use. As he noted, African-Americans in particular seem to be interested in more than just search engines. They are increasingly using social networking to expand their network of job contacts and improve the probability of finding out about job opportunities.”
  • Internet a critical job search tool for blacks, Joint Center study finds (Afro Briefs/Zenitha Prince)  “Also, 35 percent of African Americans who were out of work within the past six years said they have used social networking sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook to look for a job, compared to 25 percent for all respondents. And, 47 percent of African Americans said they have used a smartphone for job hunting, compared to 36 percent of Latinos and 24 percent of Whites. Another key finding was that those who felt most confident about their digital skills were more likely to use the Web. Advocates said this suggests that increased access to broadband and expanded digital literacy is necessary to mitigate high rates of unemployment—especially since many employers are now posting jobs online only.”
  • Broadband and jobs: African Americans rely heavily on mobile access and social networking in job search [pdf] (Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies)  “Although smartphones make overall access levels for African Americans and Latinos comparable to levels for white Americans, home broadband adoption levels for African Americans and Latinos still lag behind the national average. Given that a larger screen (e.g., on a desktop or laptop) can be helpful in looking for job ads or filling out applications, alternative places to use the Internet such as libraries or community centers are still worthwhile even as mobile access increases.”
  • Putting a face on the Joint Center report (The Law and Politics of Broadband/Alton Drew)  “It is tempting to argue that there is a failure in the market for laptops or personal computers, but it is difficult to draw that conclusion where the consumer opts for a $600 smart phone and a $60 a month data plan. Have American consumers with no broadband and computer at home been kept out of the laptop/wired broadband-at-home market or have they chosen to stay out? As the labor market continues to erect these technical barriers to employment, we will need more than government policies that promote literacy skills or call for more computers in a library. Wireless companies discontinuing subsidies of smart phones would be a start.”

Access fact:
As the quotes above indicate, the Joint Center study found that public libraries are still very important Internet access points: “While the survey found that 15% of all adults had used the Internet at a public library in the previous 12 months, that figure was 21% for African Americans and 23% for Latinos. For poor Americans (those with household incomes less than $15,000 per year), 24% have used the Internet at a public library in the past year.”