NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Compensation Rises For Black Males

December 2, 1999

The wage gap between black and white male earners has been a source of serious social concern for many decades. Now there is evidence that gap is narrowing.

Kenneth A. Couch of the University of Connecticut and Mary Daly of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco reviewed the statistics. Here are a few of their findings:

  • The weekly pay of black male, full-time workers rose enough in the 1990s to cut the black-white earnings gap to its lowest level in history.
  • Although the wage gap declined sharply in the 1960s and 1970s, it widened in the 1980s -- but that disheartening trend reversed with a vengeance in the 1990s.
  • By 1998, black men's relative wages had risen to a record 73 percent of white levels.
  • In fact, younger black males -- those with less than 10 years experience -- were earning 82 percent as much as their white peers.

Couch and Daly found that blacks are no longer as concentrated in low-paying industries and occupations.

Fewer black men now work as laborers and more are employed as equipment operators, craftsmen, and as professionals and managers. The shift is most apparent among younger workers, they report.

Source: Gene Koretz, "The Racial Wage Gap Is Shrinking," Business Week, November 29, 1999.


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