We analyze data from selected March Current Population Surveys (U. S. Bureau of the Census) spanning the period 1968 to 1998 to provide a statistical portrait of labor force participation and composition, and underemployment in the nonmetropolitan (nonmetro) and metropolitan (metro) South. The southern labor force has been characterized by many of the same trends seen at the national level. Labor force participation rates have been on the rise in the South, due exclusively to the influx of women into the labor market. For this reason, and due to immigration, the southern labor force has come to consist more of women and of blacks and Hispanics, and less of non-Hispanic white men. Trends in the educational attainment of southern workers suggest both optimism and concern. lncreases in overall educational attainment and declines in racial/ethnic inequality in high school completion must be viewed against persisting disadvantages among minority and nonmetro workers in terms of college completion. Finally, nonmetro workers have a higher prevalence of underemployment than their metro counterparts, primarily due to the greater prevalence of the "working poor" in the nonmetro South. Black-white inequality in underemployment declined over the past thirty years, while Hispanic-white inequality increased.

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