African-American Employees See Fastest Growth in Wages in Over 15 Years

Despite recent gains, the pay gap between races is wide. Median weekly pay for blacks in the third quarter was $624, versus $829 for whites and $602 for Latinos. PHOTO: PATRICK SEMANSKY/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Despite recent gains, the pay gap between races is wide. Median weekly pay for blacks in the third quarter was $624, versus $829 for whites and $602 for Latinos. PHOTO: PATRICK SEMANSKY/ASSOCIATED PRESS

More than seven years after the recession ended, black workers’ earnings are accelerating sharply.

Median usual weekly earnings for full-time black workers rose 9.8% in the third quarter from a year earlier, the fastest rate of growth on records back to 2000, according to data the Labor Department released Thursday.

The recent gains mean the increase in earnings for blacks since the recession ended in mid-2009, 15.7%, is now outpacing the gain for whites, 13.3%, and Latinos, 15.5%. But bulk of the improvement for blacks and Latinos has occurred in the past two years.

Despite recent gains, the pay gap between races is wide. Median weekly pay for blacks in the third quarter of 2016 was $685, versus $854 for whites and $632 for Latinos.

The data is consistent with the argument put forth by some economists that wage gains for minority groups tend to be most pronounced when the economy is near full employment. The unemployment rate, 5% last month, has held near that historically low mark for the past year.

 

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Source: The Wall Street Journal | ERIC MORATH