Re­port: Racial wage gap widest in nearly 4 decades

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Errin Haines Whack

WASHINGTON >> As wages for Amer­i­can work­ers have stag­nated for more than a gen­er­a­tion, the in­come gap be­tween black and white work­ers has widened, and dis­crim­i­na­tion is the main rea­son for the per­sist­ing dis­par­ity, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port.

The Eco­nomic Pol­icy In­sti­tute also found that young black women are be­ing hit the hard­est. This gap re­mains even after con­trol­ling for fac­tors like ed­u­ca­tion, ex­pe­ri­ence, or ge­og­ra­phy.

The wage gap to­day is “worse now than it was 36 years ago,” said Va­lerie Wil­son, di­rec­tor of the lib­er­al­lean­ing think tank’s Pro­gram on Race, Eth­nic­ity and the Econ­omy.

“For the most part, wages have been fairly flat since 2000, as have in­comes and other eco­nomic mea­sures,” Wil­son said. “As we’ve seen this over­all stag­na­tion, those racial dis­par­i­ties have grown.”

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port re­leased Tues­day, as of 2015, black men liv­ing in sim­i­lar met­ro­pol­i­tan ar­eas and re­gions of the coun­try make 22 per­cent less than white men with the same ed­u­ca­tion and ex­pe­ri­ence. For black women, the num­ber is 34.2 per­cent less. Black women made 11.7 per­cent less than white women.

Since 1979, me­dian hourly wage growth has fallen short of pro­duc­tiv­ity growth for all work­ers, re­gard­less of race or gen­der. Mean­while, wages for black men and women have grown more slowly than for whites — re­sult­ing in the wage gap re­main­ing un­changed or ex­pand­ing in the decades that fol­lowed.

The re­port points to sev­eral rea­sons for the widen­ing gap, while not­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion has con­sis­tently played a ma­jor role. Few black work­ers have the kinds of top-wage earn­ing jobs that have seen the ma­jor­ity of growth dur­ing the stud­ied pe­riod. The de­cline of unions — which have his­tor­i­cally been help­ful to black work­ers seek­ing in­come equal­ity — has also con­trib­uted to the dis­par­ity.

And the re­port con­cludes that hav­ing a col­lege de­gree wors­ens the gap, counter to the idea that ed­u­ca­tion is the key to a more equal so­ci­ety.

While black male col­lege grad­u­ates en­ter­ing the work­force in the 1980s had less than a 10 per­cent dis­ad­van­tage com­pared to whites, by 2014, sim­i­larly ed­u­cated black men started their first jobs at a deficit of roughly 18 per­cent. The re­port also found that grow­ing earn­ings in­equal­ity has im­pacted young black col­lege-ed­u­cated men and women’s wage de­te­ri­o­ra­tion more in the years since the Great Re­ces­sion than dur­ing any other pe­riod.

“Ed­u­ca­tion un­ques­tion­ably en­hances mo­bil­ity and in­creases wages, but what it does not do as ef­fec­tively is elim­i­nate racial dis­par­i­ties,” said Wil­son. “More ed­u­ca­tion means higher wages, but it does not mean equal wages be­tween blacks and whites as they as­cend that lad­der.”

The re­port calls for sev­eral pol­icy mea­sures to ad­dress the wage gap, in­clud­ing con­sis­tently en­forc­ing long-stand­ing anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion laws in the hir­ing, pro­mo­tion and pay of women and mi­nori­ties; con­ven­ing a sum­mit to ad­dress why black col­lege grad­u­ates start their ca­reers at an earn­ings dis­ad­van­tage; and rais­ing the fed­eral min­i­mum wage.

“For the most part, wages have been fairly flat since 2000, as have in­comes and other eco­nomic mea­sures. As we’ve seen this over­all stag­na­tion, those racial dis­par­i­ties have grown.” — Va­lerie Wil­son, di­rec­tor of the Pro­gram on Race, Eth­nic­ity and the Econ­omy

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.