Wage gap between white and black Americans is worse today than in 1979

Black humen average hourly wages ran from being 22.2% lower in 1979 to 31.0% lower in 2015; for black women the wage gap ran from 6% to 19%

Black Americans today earn even less relative to their white equivalents than they did in 1979, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute( EPI ).

The report, released by the left-leaning thinktank on Tuesday, shows that the gap between wages of both black and white men and black and white girls has widened over the last 36 years.

Black humen average hourly wages ran from being 22.2% lower than those of white humen in 1979 to being 31% lower by 2015. For women, the wage gap went from 6% in 1979 to 19% in 2015.

The finding that stands out the most, our major result, is that the racial wage gaps were larger in 2015 than they were in 1979. Thats huge because the impression people have, in general, is we know theres still racism in this country, but we guess or at least believe that its getting better, said Valerie Wilson, director of the EPIs program on race, ethnicity and the economy and one of research reports writers.

The EPI report comes a week after the US Census Bureau found that in 2015, median income for white Americans ran up 4.4% and that of black Americans went up by 4.1%. While everyones income went up in 2015, a large racial divide remains. The median household income for white Americans in 2015 was $63,000. Thats 70% more than the median household income of black Americans, which was $36,898.

Race and median income. Photograph: US Census Bureau

One of the main reasons that income for black Americans is not increasing at the same rate as that of white Americans is the starting wages of college alumnus within each group. According to the EPI, black male college alumnus started the 1980 s with less than 10% drawback relative to white male college alumnus but by 2014 similarly educated new entrants were at a approximately 18% disadvantage.

The report was unequivocally grim for black girls, especially those who are young. The researchers found that the current wave of inequality has hit young black women the hardest. Since 2000, when the gap began widening, its black girls only entering the workforce who have assured their wages fall the farthest compared with their white peers.

The wage gap between white and black employees is still at its largest between men. But since 1979, the gap has grown fastest among women. Thirty-seven years ago, black females earned merely 6% less than white females. Today, black women earn 19% less than white girls. Change in educational attainment and other factors, like the fact that black females are more likely to work in the south, explain only a third of that gap.

You can see this trend writ small among highly educated black women, Wilson said. At the beginning of the 1980 s, black women with a college degree or higher and white women with a college degree or higher earned approximately the same wages. But today, wages for black women with a college degree or higher are 12.3% less than those of their white counterparts. That is doubled the inequality experienced by black women with merely a high school degree.

At the same time that the racial wage gap has widened, the gender wage gap has narrowed significantly. But the effects of racial discrimination have all but erased those gains for black girls.

Theres no question that white girls benefited more from the narrowing of the gender wage gap than black females, said Wilson.

She noted that in the 1990 s, while the gender wage gap for white girls grew noticeably smaller, for black girls, the gaps stayed the same. Black females are faced with both forms of discrimination, Wilson said. And that racial drawback has basically limited their achievements in constricting the gender gap.

The EPI report released on Tuesday included some measures the US could take to close the wage gap between black and white Americans. The suggestions included increasing the federal minimum wage, enforcing statutes to prevent wage stealing and discrimination, developing ways to assess the role discrimination plays on wages of black Americans and a summit to address the low starting wages of black Americans.

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