NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Incomes Rise For Single Black Mothers

August 18, 1998

Tight labor markets and welfare reform are pushing up incomes of single black female heads of households, according to Labor Department figures. Their incomes are rising faster than those of almost any other demographic group.

  • Between 1993 and 1996, the median income for this group jumped more than 21 percent -- from $12,765 a year to $15,530, in inflation adjusted dollars.
  • For the same period, income for single black female heads of families -- a slightly different category because it includes only women with children -- rose from $13,489 to $16,256.
  • Previously, between 1969 and 1993, their median income had fallen by more than 4 percent.
  • Moreover, new Labor Department studies show that 1.7 million people nationally who were on welfare in 1996 were working last year.

Experts say there is clear evidence that the welfare-to-work trend has played a significant role in increasing income among black women by pushing more to work. Also, rising pay has encouraged more to work and appears to be lifting wages at the bottom of the scale faster than the top. Even without increases in the federal minimum wage, observers say these workers would still be benefiting from the strong economy.

Source: Steven A. Holmes, "Economy Lifts Incomes of Single Black Women Who Head Households," New York Times, August 18, 1998.


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