Racial, Gender Wage Gaps Persist in U.S. Despite Some Progress

Eileen Patten, Pew Research, July 1, 2016

Large racial and gender wage gaps in the U.S. remain, even as they have narrowed in some cases over the years. Among full- and part-time workers in the U.S., blacks in 2015 earned just 75% as much as whites in median hourly earnings and women earned 83% as much as men.

Looking at gender, race and ethnicity combined, all groups, with the exception of Asian men, lag behind white men in terms of median hourly earnings, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. {snip}

In 2015, average hourly wages for black and Hispanic men were $15 and $14, respectively, compared with $21 for white men. Only the hourly earnings of Asian men ($24) outpaced those of white men.

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Among women across all races and ethnicities, hourly earnings lag behind those of white men and men in their own racial or ethnic group. But the hourly earnings of Asian and white women ($18 and $17, respectively) are higher than those of black and Hispanic women ($13 and $12, respectively)–and also higher than those of black and Hispanic men.

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Black and Hispanic men, for their part, have made no progress in narrowing the wage gap with white men since 1980, in part because there have been no improvements in the hourly earnings of white, black or Hispanic men over this 35-year period. As a result, black men earned the same 73% share of white men’s hourly earnings in 1980 as they did in 2015, and Hispanic men earned 69% of white men’s earnings in 2015 compared with 71% in 1980.

To be sure, some of these wage gaps can be attributed to the fact that lower shares of blacks and Hispanics are college educated. {snip}

However, looking just at those with a bachelor’s degree or more education, wage gaps by gender, race and ethnicity persist. College-educated black and Hispanic men earn roughly 80% the hourly wages of white college educated men ($25 and $26 vs. $32, respectively). White and Asian college-educated women also earn roughly 80% the hourly wages of white college-educated men ($25 and $27, respectively). {snip}

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{snip} And NBER researcher Roland Fryer found that for one group of adults in their 40s, controlling for standardized-test scores reduced the wage gap between black men and white men in 2006 by roughly 70%.

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