Wage Gap Between Blacks and Whites is Worst in Nearly 4 Decades

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The wage gap between blacks and whites is the worst it’s been in nearly four decades, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute.

Last year, the hourly pay gap between blacks and whites widened to 26.7%, with whites making an average of $25.22 an hour compared to $18.49 for blacks, the EPI found. Almost 40 years ago, in 1979, the wage gap between blacks and whites was 18.1%, with whites earning an inflation-adjusted average of $19.62 an hour and blacks earning $16.07 an hour.

What’s driving the wage gap has little to do with access to education, disparities in work experience or where someone lives, EPI found. Rather, the researchers found “discrimination…and growing earnings inequality in general,” to be the primary factors at play.

“Race is not a skill or characteristic that should have any market value as it relates to your wages, but it does,” said Valerie Wilson, the director of the program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy at the EPI and a co-author of the report.

Studies have shown that applicants with “black sounding names” like Jamal are less likely to get a call back than applicants with names that appear white. Wilson also cited the skyrocketing incarceration rates of thousands of black men and women in the 1980s and 1990s who were pulled out of the workforce and have since struggled to get back in.

Wage inequities also build up over time, Wilson said. If a black person started working in the 1980s and earned less than a white person, then “that disadvantage carries over.”

The researchers found that in 2015 the wage gap between black men with 11 to 20 years of work experience and their white counterparts was wider (23.5%) than it was for black men who had 10 years’ of experience or less and their white peers (18.7%). Black women with 11 to 20 years of experience were paid 12.6% less than white women with the same experience and those with 10 years’ experience or less made 10.8% less.

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SOURCE: CNN Money, Tanzina Vega