The Labor Department said on Friday that employers hired 217,000 workers last month, bringing the job market back to 2008 levels.
It took more than four years to get back to this point after the recession wiped out more than 8.7 million jobs in just two years. And most economists think we’re not out of the woods yet: As my colleague Derek Thompson points out, the labor force participation rate is still at a multi-decade low.
But according to a new study, jobs and wealth weren’t the only things we lost in the recession. All of those economic woes might have also influenced how people perceive other races and have made people less generous toward those who look different from them.
For a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, David Amodio, a psychology professor at New York University and Amy Krosch, a graduate student, performed a series of experiments that showed that their predominantly white study subjects tended to view biracial people as “more black” when they were primed with economic scarcity, and that the subjects were stingier toward darker-complexioned people overall.
First, the researchers asked 70 people to fill out a questionnaire that assessed their concern about economic competition between races. (The statements included things like, “When blacks make economic gains, whites lose out economically.”) They were then asked to identify the races of an array of images of faces, which had been created by fusing different percentages of a picture of a white person with an image of a black person.
The authors found that the more the subjects believed that whites and blacks were locked in a zero-sum rivalry, the likelier they were to see the lighter-complexioned faces as “blacker.”