Joint Center Study Shows African Americans Are Biggest Users of Online Job Search

Woman in black pants and white top seated on green couch According to information released by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, African Americans are more likely than other groups to use the Internet to search for jobs, particularly when it comes to using mobile devices and social media. Studies show that the Internet has been crucial to the success of their job search.
The Center?s report, “Broadband and Jobs: African Americans Rely Heavily on Mobile Access and Social Networking in Job Search,” was funded by the Joyce Foundation and released today at a Washington broadband technology forum. Highlights from the forum include remarks from Commissioner Mignon Clyburn of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

This is good news considering that just three years ago, the “closing the Broadband divide among African Americans” issue was a hot topic of conversation, one that indicated that African Americans were sorely left behind when it came to Internet access. A 2010 article published on stated that “only 59% of African-Americans had adopted broadband (high-speed
Internet access) in the home compared to 67% of the overall U.S.

In addition, the report found that confidence in one’s own digital skills is tied to the 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 number 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.

Two of the study’s key findings state:

1. 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.

2. 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.

The study’s author, John B. Horrigan, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow at the Joint Center, said, “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,” He continued, “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.”