WASHINGTON—- Black and Asian women with bachelor’s degrees earn slightly more than similarly educated white women, and white men with four-year degrees make more than anyone else.
A white woman with a bachelor’s degree typically earned nearly $37,800 in 2003, compared with $41,100 for a college-educated black woman and nearly $43,700 for a college-educated Asian woman, according to data being released today by the Census Bureau. Hispanic women took home slightly less, at $37,600 a year.
The bureau did not say why the differences exist. Economists and sociologists suggest possible factors: the tendency of minority women, especially blacks, to more often hold more than one job or work more than 40 hours a week, and the tendency of black professional women who take time off to have a child to return to the work force sooner than others.
Employers in some fields may give extra financial incentives to young black women, who graduate from college at higher rates than young black men, said Roderick Harrison, a researcher at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank that studies minority issues.
“Given the relative scarcity, if you are a woman in the sciences—if you are a black woman—you would be a rare commodity,” Harrison said.
A white male with a college diploma earns far more than any similarly educated man or woman—in excess of $66,000 a year, according to the Census Bureau. Among men with bachelor’s degrees, Asians earned more than $52,000 a year, Hispanics earned $49,000 and blacks earned more than $45,000.
Workplace discrimination and the continuing difficulties of minorities to get into higher-paying management positions could help explain the disparities among men, experts say.