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Home Segregation Twice As High As Work Segregation, Study Finds

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David Carillet
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Adobe Stock

There are many ways to measure segregation. In the Milwaukee area, we often hear about hyper-segregated schools and neighborhoods. But the impact of segregation can be felt in every part of our lives, including where we work.

Earlier this year, a group of researchers published a report on residential and workplace segregation in the U.S. The research found that while cities throughout the country continue to be segregated, our workplaces are half as segregated.

"There’s not a single city in the country where residential — or nighttime segregation — was lower than workplace, or daytime, segregation," says Matthew Hall, the lead author of the report and a professor of public policy at Cornell University. 

"There's not a single city in the country where residential — or nighttime segregation — was lower than workplace, or daytime, segregation."

The report, published in the Population Research and Policy Review, analyzed the disparity in U.S. metropolitan areas. Milwaukee was found to have the most segregated residential areas in the country and one of the top five most segregated workplaces in the nation, with half as much segregation during the workday. 

And although workplaces were found to have significantly less segregation overall, the study found that larger inequality of work led to less segregation in the workplace. 

"Work places ... tend to be more racially integrated when you have kind of a clear racial order with white workers having senior, more privileged positions and minority workers tending to support them."

"Now, that might seem kind of paradoxical and it confused [the researchers] for a little while, but what it means is that workplaces ... tend to be more racially integrated when you have kind of a clear racial order with white workers having senior, more privileged positions and minority workers tending to support them. So, it is an interesting and somewhat troubling kind of caveat to this," says Hall. 

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Joy Powers joined WUWM January 2016 as a producer for Lake Effect. Before then, she was a director and producer for Afternoon Shift, on WBEZ-fm Chicago Public Radio.