BC welcomes Algernon Austin as a columnist.
"RACE-Y Topics" will appear on a regular basis.
2008, the nation elected its first black president, Barack
Obama. While some were celebrating the supposed arrival
of a post-racial America, black men more generally earned
only 71% of what white men earned. The median hourly wage
for black male full-time workers was $14.90; for comparable
white workers it was $20.84. There is no reason to expect
that these differences are significantly smaller today.
and other differences can explain some, but not all, of
the black-white wage gap. At the end of the day, it turns
out that being black matters. Two new reports that I co-authored
show that neither education, skills nor culture fully explain
the black-white wage disparities. The first report focuses
on the occupations of black men, the second on the wages
of black immigrants.
workers do not have equal access to all jobs. “Whiter Jobs, Higher Wages” by Darrick Hamilton,
William Darity, Jr. and myself shows that, after making
adjustments for educational attainment, black men are underrepresented
in 49% of all occupations and overrepresented in 38%. Thus,
only 13% of occupations look like what we would expect in
a land of equal opportunity.
uneven occupational distribution is particularly important
because the occupations where black men are over represented
have an average wage that is nearly $14,000 less than the
occupations where black men are underrepresented. In other
words, the whiter the workforce for an occupation is the
higher the pay.
finding of whiter jobs, higher pay is not specific to any
class of occupations. Blacks in managerial and professional
occupations are over represented in the lower-paying managerial
and professional occupations. Blacks in the service sector
are over represented in the lower-paying service occupations.
Blacks in manufacturing and transportation occupations are
over represented in the lower-paying manufacturing and transportation
occupations. It does not matter whether occupations require
“soft skills,” “hard skills,” or managerial skills, blacks
will be over represented in the lower-paying jobs.
conventional wisdom that black immigrants do better economically
than U.S.-born blacks because black immigrants supposedly
have better cultural values also does not hold up to scrutiny.
Patrick Mason and I examine the socio-economic standing
and wages of black immigrants relative to U.S.-born whites
and blacks in “The Low Wages of Black Immigrants”.
all measures, U.S.-born whites come out ahead of the pack.
After taking into account 15 wage-relevant factors, we find
that black immigrants do not earn higher wages than U.S.-born
blacks. In fact, some black immigrant groups do worse. The
wages of Haitian and African men are particularly low relative
to similar U.S.-born white and black
major point, however, is that all blacks, U.S.-born and
foreign-born, face similar economic problems. If one wants
to succeed economically in American society, it helps to
BlackCommentator.com Guest Commentator, Dr. Algernon Austin, PhD, is the
Director of the Race, Ethnicity and the Economy Program
at the Economic Policy
Institute in Washington, D.C. Additionally,
he is the author of Getting It Wrong: How Black Public Intellectuals Are Failing Black
America and Achieving Blackness: Race, Black Nationalism, and Afrocentrism
in the Twentieth Century, as well as scholarly articles in Ethnic and Racial Studies, Qualitative Sociology, the Journal of African American Studies, and Race, Gender and Class.
He blogs at thorainstitute.blogspot.com and The
Huffington Post. Click here to
contact Dr. Austin.