We're all, I'll presume, familiar enough with the economic argument that suggests that racism in hiring practices, because costly, is the sort of thing that gets weeded out in a free market (at least once you presume that the society as a whole is non-racist enough that, say, a store doesn't lose business by hiring a competent salesman who's a member of a disfavored minority). I like to think that's the case, since it tends to create, for wholly economic reasons, a feedback loop that reduces social racism: Even in the absence of vocal disapprobation of bigots, economic pressure is brought to bear, and the leveling there undermines the ethnic hermeticism that allows those attitudes to fester.
Ah… but. Sociologist Kieran Healy over at Crooked Timber points to a recent study on the employment effects of incarceration. One of the upshots is that, controlling for education and skills, you're better off as a job-seeker being white with a felony conviction than being black with a clean record. Which, barring some magical explanation for the disparity that doesn't involve employer bigotry, is fairly depressing.