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Economic Outcomes for Indigenous Peoples in the United States Following the Great Recession

Randall Akee anchors this issue with a focus on the earnings and employment conditions of Indigenous Peoples in the United States. While there are 574 federally recognized Tribal entities in the United States, each with distinct cultures and traditions, these groups are organized within two broad census cohorts here: American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN) and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPI). Akee finds that on average, relative to non-Hispanic whites in the same time periods, AIAN populations have significantly lower median earnings and face the highest levels of earnings inequality.


  • Longstanding inequalities experienced by Indigenous peoples in the United States were exacerbated by the economic fallout of the Great Recession.
  • American Indian and Alaskan Native (AIAN) and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities saw economic opportunities recover more slowly and less robustly throughout the extended recession recovery period compared to non-Hispanic white populations.
  • Food service sector workers fared relatively well during the recession’s recovery compared to other “working class” job sectors such as janitorial services and construction trades.
  • While economic impacts on tribal communities were similar to those during the Great Recession, public health impacts related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have been devastating.


Employment, Inequality & Mobility, Labor Market, Low-Wage Work, Place, Place General, Poverty Measurement, Racial/Ethnic Inequality, State & Local Measures, Unemployment/Nonemployment


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