Report | Race and Ethnicity

No relief in 2012 from high unemployment for African Americans and Latinos

Issue Brief #322

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Press release

Even though the U.S. recession officially ended in June 2009, the country’s unemployment rate remains devastatingly high. The situation is particularly dire for many African Americans and Latinos—and is not predicted to improve any time soon.

Among the states with sufficient data for reliable estimates, African American unemployment rates exceeded 10 percent in 24 states and the District of Columbia in the third quarter of 2011, while unemployment rates for Latinos exceeded this symbolic threshold in 14 states. If our political leaders fail to quickly enact bold measures to spur a faster economic recovery, the status quo of high unemployment rates for African Americans and Latinos is likely to persist throughout 2012.

From left, panelists Algernon Austin (EPI Director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy), Valerie Rawlston Wilson (National Urban League Policy Institute Economist and Vice President of Research), Tanya Clay House (Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Director of Public Policy), and Brandon Garrett (Congressional Black Caucus Policy Director) at the EPI event “Hit hard by the recession, left behind in the recovery: Achieving full employment for black workers” on Feb. 16.

This issue brief reviews the unemployment rates by state for whites, Latinos, and African Americans for the third quarter of 2011 and the projected rates for the fourth quarter of 2012. We find:

  • While the white unemployment rate remains high nationally, in each state and the District of Columbia, it is lower than the overall unemployment rate for each state. In the third quarter of 2011, the highest white unemployment rate was in Nevada (11.7 percent), and the lowest was in North Dakota (2.2 percent).
  • In the third quarter of 2011, the states with the highest Latino unemployment rates were in the Northeast: Rhode Island (19.6 percent), Connecticut (18.7 percent), and Pennsylvania (17.5 percent). The lowest rate was in Virginia (4.6 percent).
  • In each state, the black unemployment rate is higher than the overall rate. In the third quarter of 2011, it ranged from a low of 1.4 times the overall state rate in South Carolina to a high of 3.9 times the overall rate in Minnesota.
  • The highest unemployment rate for blacks—27.4 percent—was in Minnesota, where the overall unemployment rate was 7.1 percent. The lowest was in Maryland, which had a black unemployment rate of 11.2 percent, while the overall rate in the state was 7.3 percent.
  • The lowest black unemployment rate of 11.2 percent in Maryland is nearly equal to the highest white unemployment rate of 11.7 percent in Nevada.
  • In the fourth quarter of 2012, the unemployment rate for each race in nearly every state is projected to remain very similar to the level recorded in the third quarter of 2011.

White unemployment rates by state

Nationally, the unemployment rate for whites is lower than the rate for the country as a whole (Table 1). Similarly, the white unemployment rate for each state and the District of Columbia is lower than each state’s overall unemployment rate. (We will consider the District of Columbia a state in this issue brief.) In the third quarter of 2011, the highest white unemployment rates were in Nevada (11.7 percent) and California (10 percent), while the lowest rate was in North Dakota (2.2 percent). Nebraska, South Dakota, the District of Columbia, and North Dakota all had white unemployment rates below 4 percent.

The white unemployment rate for each state in the fourth quarter of 2012 is projected to be very similar to the rate for the third quarter of 2011. Only California is projected to have a change in white unemployment of more than one percentage point, dropping by 1.1 percentage points to 8.9 percent. This would give the state the fourth-highest white unemployment rate in the country, compared with the second-highest today.

Table 1

Unemployment rates for white and all workers, by state (third quarter, 2011, and projected fourth quarter, 2012)

Third quarter, 2011 Fourth quarter, 2012 (projected)
Rank State White All Rank State White All
1 Nevada 11.7% 13.2% 1 Nevada 11.8% 13.4%
2 California 10.0% 12.0% 2 Michigan 9.7% 11.2%
3 Michigan 9.6% 11.1% 3 Oregon 9.1% 9.7%
4 Rhode Island 9.1% 10.6% 4 California 8.9% 10.7%
5 Oregon 8.9% 9.6% 5 Rhode Island 8.7% 10.2%
5 South Carolina 8.9% 11.0% 5 South Carolina 8.7% 10.7%
7 Idaho 8.7% 9.2% 7 Arizona 8.0% 9.5%
8 Kentucky 8.6% 9.6% 7 Tennessee 8.0% 9.5%
9 Washington 8.5% 9.3% 7 Washington 8.0% 8.7%
10 Florida 8.4% 10.7% 10 Idaho 7.9% 8.3%
11 Illinois 8.2% 9.8% 10 Indiana 7.9% 9.0%
11 Tennessee 8.2% 9.8% 10 Illinois 7.9% 9.4%
13 Alabama 7.9% 9.9% 13 North Carolina 7.8% 10.3%
14 Georgia 7.8% 10.2% 13 Kentucky 7.8% 8.6%
14 North Carolina 7.8% 10.3% 15 Georgia 7.5% 9.8%
14 Arizona 7.8% 9.3% 15 Ohio 7.5% 8.8%
14 Ohio 7.8% 9.1% 17 Florida 7.4% 9.5%
18 Indiana 7.6% 8.7% 18 Massachusetts 7.3% 7.7%
18 New Jersey 7.6% 9.4% 19 New Jersey 7.2% 8.9%
20 Missouri 7.5% 8.7% 20 Alabama 7.1% 8.9%
21 Utah 7.3% 7.5% 21 Maine 7.0% 7.5%
22 Maine 7.2% 7.6% 21 Missouri 7.0% 8.2%
23 West Virginia 7.1% 8.1% 23 Pennsylvania 6.7% 8.0%
23 Colorado 7.1% 8.4% 23 Montana 6.7% 7.6%
25 Massachusetts 7.0% 7.4% 23 West Virginia 6.7% 7.7%
25 Connecticut 7.0% 9.0% 23 Delaware 6.7% 8.0%
27 Pennsylvania 6.9% 8.1% 23 Utah 6.7% 6.8%
28 Montana 6.8% 7.7% 28 Connecticut 6.5% 8.4%
28 Delaware 6.8% 8.1% 29 Alaska 6.4% 7.6%
30 Alaska 6.5% 7.6% 30 Colorado 6.3% 7.5%
31 Texas 6.3% 8.5% 30 Mississippi 6.3% 10.4%
31 Mississippi 6.3% 10.5% 32 New York 6.2% 8.2%
31 Wisconsin 6.3% 7.8% 33 Texas 6.1% 8.2%
34 Arkansas 6.2% 8.3% 34 Wyoming 6.0% 6.4%
35 New York 6.1% 8.0% 35 Arkansas 5.8% 7.8%
36 Minnesota 5.9% 7.1% 36 Wisconsin 5.7% 7.2%
37 Vermont 5.7% 5.8% 36 New Mexico 5.7% 7.5%
38 Maryland 5.6% 7.3% 38 Maryland 5.6% 7.3%
39 Iowa 5.5% 6.0% 38 Vermont 5.6% 5.7%
40 Hawaii 5.4% 6.2% 40 Minnesota 5.4% 6.6%
40 Kansas 5.4% 6.6% 41 Iowa 5.3% 5.8%
40 Wyoming 5.4% 5.8% 41 Virginia 5.3% 6.7%
43 New Hampshire 5.1% 5.3% 43 Hawaii 5.1% 5.9%
43 New Mexico 5.1% 6.6% 43 Kansas 5.1% 6.3%
45 Virginia 5.0% 6.3% 45 New Hampshire 4.9% 5.1%
46 Louisiana 4.5% 7.2% 46 Louisiana 4.4% 7.1%
47 Oklahoma 4.3% 5.7% 47 Oklahoma 4.0% 5.3%
48 Nebraska 3.6% 4.2% 48 Nebraska 3.7% 4.3%
48 South Dakota 3.6% 4.7% 49 South Dakota 3.4% 4.5%
50 District of Columbia 3.4% 11.0% 50 District of Columbia 3.2% 10.5%
51 North Dakota 2.2% 3.4% 51 North Dakota 2.4% 3.8%
United States 7.4% 9.1% United States 7.0% 8.7%

Note: States are ranked by highest to lowest white unemployment rate.

Sources: EPI estimates based on data from the Current Population Survey and the Local Area Unemployment Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and December 2011 projections from Moody’s Economy.com

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Latino unemployment rates by state

In the third quarter of 2011, Northeastern states had the highest Latino unemployment rates, as shown in Table 2. (Note that, as mentioned previously, this analysis is limited to states with sufficient sample size for reliable statistics.) Rhode Island (19.6 percent) topped the list, followed by Connecticut (18.7 percent) and Pennsylvania (17.5 percent). This is surprising considering that the states with the highest overall unemployment rates are Nevada and California—both states in which a fairly large share of the labor force is Latino. Yet Nevada ranks sixth in Latino unemployment, and California ranks fifth. More research is necessary to understand the causes of high unemployment rates for Latinos in the Northeast.

Table 2

Unemployment rates for Latino and all workers, by state (third quarter, 2011, and projected fourth quarter, 2012)

Third quarter, 2011 Fourth quarter, 2012 (projected)
Rank State Latino All Rank State Latino All
1 Rhode Island 19.6% 10.6% 1 Rhode Island 18.8% 10.2%
2 Connecticut 18.7% 9.0% 2 Connecticut 17.3% 8.4%
3 Pennsylvania 17.5% 8.1% 3 Pennsylvania 17.2% 8.0%
4 Washington 15.3% 9.3% 4 Washington 14.4% 8.7%
5 California 13.7% 12.0% 5 Nevada 13.7% 13.4%
6 Nevada 13.5% 13.2% 6 Arizona 12.8% 9.5%
7 Idaho 12.6% 9.2% 7 Massachusetts 12.3% 7.7%
8 Arizona 12.4% 9.3% 8 California 12.2% 10.7%
9 Florida 12.3% 10.7% 9 Idaho 11.4% 8.3%
10 Colorado 12.1% 8.4% 10 New Jersey 11.3% 8.9%
11 New Jersey 11.9% 9.4% 11 Illinois 11.0% 9.4%
12 Massachusetts 11.8% 7.4% 11 New York 11.0% 8.2%
13 Illinois 11.5% 9.8% 13 Florida 10.9% 9.5%
14 New York 10.7% 8.0% 14 Colorado 10.8% 7.5%
15 North Carolina 9.1% 10.3% 15 New Mexico 9.0% 7.5%
16 Texas 9.0% 8.5% 15 North Carolina 9.0% 10.3%
17 Utah 8.3% 7.5% 17 Texas 8.7% 8.2%
18 Delaware 8.2% 8.1% 18 Delaware 8.1% 8.0%
19 New Mexico 8.0% 6.6% 19 Utah 7.6% 6.8%
20 District of Columbia 7.5% 11.0% 20 District of Columbia 7.2% 10.5%
21 Georgia 6.4% 10.2% 21 Maryland 6.4% 7.3%
22 Maryland 6.3% 7.3% 22 Georgia 6.1% 9.8%
23 Nebraska 5.5% 4.2% 23 Nebraska 5.6% 4.3%
24 Virginia 4.6% 6.3% 24 Virginia 4.9% 6.7%
United States 11.3% 9.1% United States 10.8% 8.7%

Note: States are ranked by highest to lowest Latino unemployment rate, based on states with sufficient data by race for reliable estimates.

Sources: EPI estimates based on data from the Current Population Survey and the Local Area Unemployment Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and December 2011 projections from Moody’s Economy.com

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While four states had white unemployment rates below 4 percent in the third quarter of 2011, no state had comparably low Latino unemployment rates. The lowest rate was in Virginia, with a Latino unemployment rate of 4.6 percent.

As with whites, the projected Latino state unemployment rates for the fourth quarter of 2012 are very similar to the rates for the third quarter of 2011. The four states with the highest unemployment rates in the third quarter of 2011 are also projected to have the highest rates at the end of 2012, with the rank order of these states projected to remain unchanged. California and Florida are expected to see the largest reductions in Hispanic unemployment, but these decreases will likely not exceed 1.5 percentage points.

African American unemployment rates by state

While the white unemployment rate is consistently lower than the overall state rate, the black rate is consistently higher (as shown in Table 3). Indeed, the lowest black unemployment rate is about equal to the highest white unemployment rate.

In the third quarter of 2011, the unemployment rate for African Americans ranged from a low of 1.4 times the overall state rate in South Carolina to 3.9 times the overall rate in Minnesota.

Blacks in Minnesota experienced the highest unemployment rate in the third quarter of 2011, at 27.4 percent. Four other states had black unemployment rates of more than 20 percent: Michigan (21.8 percent), California (21.3 percent), the District of Columbia (21.1 percent), and Ohio (20.3 percent).

In the third quarter of 2011, the lowest black unemployment rates were in Maryland (11.2 percent) and Virginia (11.6 percent). These states encircle the District of Columbia, the area with the fourth-highest black unemployment rate. This finding suggests that there are significant demographic and economic differences between blacks inside and adjacent to the District of Columbia.

As with whites and Latinos, the projected black unemployment rates for the fourth quarter of 2012 are very similar to the rates for the third quarter of 2011. Most of the changes are within one percentage point in either direction. Again, the largest decline is in California, where the black unemployment rate is projected to decline 2.4 percentage points. Similarly, Florida and Minnesota are projected to see declines of 2 percentage points. But even with these reductions, these three states will all still have black unemployment rates higher than 15 percent, and, in the case of Minnesota, more than 25 percent.

”Table

Gender Wage Gap Primer

Figure A

Progress in closing the gender pay gap has largely stalled: Women’s hourly wages as a share of men’s at the median, 1979–2015

Year Women’s hourly earnings at the median as a share of men’s hourly earnings at the median
1979 62.7%
1980 63.4%
1981 64.2%
1982 64.8%
1983 66.5%
1984 67.4%
1985 67.1%
1986 66.9%
1987 69.1%
1988 71.1%
1989 73.1%
1990 74.4%
1991 74.9%
1992 76.2%
1993 77.6%
1994 78.4%
1995 76.7%
1996 77.6%
1997 79.0%
1998 78.2%
1999 76.9%
2000 78.0%
2001 78.5%
2002 80.1%
2003 81.0%
2004 81.8%
2005 82.0%
2006 82.2%
2007 81.5%
2008 82.6%
2009 81.7%
2010 83.3%
2011 84.0%
2012 82.8%
2013 83.4%
2014 82.9%
2015 83.3%
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Source: EPI analysis of Current Population Survey microdata

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Figure B

Women earn less than men at every wage level: Hourly wages by gender and wage percentile, 2015

Male Female
 10th $9.29 $8.57
 20th $11.11 $9.91
 30th $13.43 $11.55
 40th $15.85 $13.50
 50th $18.85 $15.69
 60th $22.29 $18.54
 70th $26.93 $22.24
 80th $34.00 $27.85
 90th $47.82 $37.79
 95th $65.95 $48.11
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SourceEPI analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata

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Figure C

The gender wage gap is largest among top earners: Women’s hourly wages as a share of men’s at various wage percentiles, 1979 and 2015

Year 10th percentile 50th percentile 95th percentile
1979 86.7% 62.7% 62.9%
2015 92.2% 83.3% 73.0%
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Notes: The xth-percentile wage is the wage at which x% of wage earners earn less and (100-x)% earn more.

Source: EPI analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation group microdata

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Figure D

Women of every race and ethnicity make less than their male counterparts: Women’s hourly wages as a percentage of men’s hourly wages of the same race, by income percentile, 2015

Within Race Gender Wage Gap All White Black Hispanic Asian
10th 92.2% 89.6% 96.2% 91.7% 91.2%
50th 83.2% 81.3% 91.9% 84.3% 75.9%
95th 73.0% 59.1% 94.3% 86.4% 62.0%
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Source: EPI analysis of Current Population Survey microdata

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Figure E

Women’s median hourly wages as a percent of white men’s median hourly wages, 2015

Gender Wage Gap as Compared to White Men Median
White Women 81.33%
Black Women 64.91% 
Hispanic Women 58.08% 
Asian Women 89.42% 
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Notes: Values in displayed above columns represent the difference between women's wages and median hourly wages of white males.

Source: EPI analysis of Current Population Survey microdata, 2015

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Figure F

Gender pay gap by immigration status, 2015

 Status  Men  Women
 Native born $26.11 $20.62
 Foreign born $20.48 $16.50
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Notes: The category native-born includes individuals born in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and U.S. outlying areas, as well as individuals born abroad of American parents. The category foreign-born includes foreign born individuals, who are not citizens of the United States.

Source: EPI analysis of Current Population Survey microdata

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Figure G

Median hourly wage gap by age, 2015

Age Men Women  Wage Gap
16-24 $10.16 $9.75 $0.41
25-34 $16.82 $15.31 $1.51
35-44 $21.56 $18.06 $3.51
45-54 $22.96 $18.04 $4.92
55-64 $22.95 $17.68 $5.27
65+ $19.34 $14.89 $4.45
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Source: EPI analysis of Current Population Survey microdata

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Figure H

Labor force participation by gender and parental status, 2013–2015

Location Women Men
All 73.8%  88.3%
Workers with no children 76.8% 84.2%
Workers with children under 18 years 71.0% 93.9%
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Note: Sample limited to prime age workers ages 25–54. Children are defined as being less than 18 years old.

Source: EPI analysis of Current Population Survey microdata.

100100

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Figure I

Average weekly hours worked, by gender and household type, 2014

Gender Male Female
All 40.9588 36.1858
No kids 40.4231 36.8106
At least one child less than 6 years old 43.1141 35.4717
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Notes: Sample is limited to prime age workers with positive average weekly hours worked.

Source: EPI analysis of the March Current Population Survey

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Figure J

Women earn less than men at every education level: Average hourly wages, by gender and education, 2015

Education level Men Women
Less than high school $13.93 $10.89
High school $18.61 $14.57
Some college $20.95 $16.59
College $35.23 $26.51
Advanced degree $45.84 $33.65
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SourceEPI analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata

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Figure K

Undergraduate majors favored by women pay less ten years after graduation: Undergraduate major selection by gender and salary ten years after graduation

Undergraduate major Salary 10 years after graduation Percent of male graduates Percent of female graduates
Engineering $90,170 11.90% 1.57%
Mathematics & science $72,908 7.57% 4.23%
Business and management $70,847 26.13% 18.65%
Health professions $68,271 4.07% 10.07%
Social science $64,407 10.35% 8.86%
Biological sciences $60,542 5.09% 3.89%
History $60,542 2.43% 1.29%
Other $58,997 12.99% 14.37%
Public affairs/social services $52,814 3.04% 3.70%
Humanities $52,814 8.33% 10.07%
Psychology $51,525 2.10% 4.86%
Education $47,403 6.00% 18.46%
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Notes: Computation by NCES PowerStats on 2/26/2016. Salaries ten years after graduation, or 2003, are shown in 2015 dollars.

Source: EPI analysis of National Center for Education Statistics B&B: 93/03 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study data.

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Table 1

Distribution of men and women among traditionally gendered occupations, 2011–2015

Gender Male Female
Traditionally male professions 45.2% 5.8%
Mixed professions 49.9% 54.3%
Traditionally female professions 4.9% 39.9%

Notes: Traditionally female occupations are defined as occupations in which more than 75 percent of worker are female. Traditionally male professions are defined as occupations in which more than 75 percent of workers are male. Employment counts are averaged over the time period, 2011–2015.

Source: EPI analysis of Current Population Group Outgoing Rotation Group data.

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Figure L

Women generally experience a smaller pay gap when their workplace is unionized: Difference between men’s and women’s median weekly earnings for full-time wage and salary employees, by race and ethnicity, 2014

Race Non-union Union
All $153 $114
Hispanic $76 $99
Black $58 $45
White $163 $118
Asian $264 $91
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Notes: The values represent the difference between the median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers who are union members or are covered by a union contract and those who are not.

Source: EPI analysis of Anderson, Hegewisch, and Hayes, 2015.

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Figure M

The difference between men’s and women’s pay varies greatly by state: Median hourly wage gender ratio by state, 2013 – 2015

State Gender pay ratio (female/male hourly earnings)
Alabama 79.8%
Alaska 85.9%
Arizona 84.4%
Arkansas 86.6%
California 87.7%
Colorado 84.3%
Connecticut 80.0%
Delaware 85.3%
Washington D.C. 92.6%
Florida 85.8%
Georgia 86.2%
Hawaii 88.3%
Idaho 84.1%
Illinois 84.5%
Indiana 82.0%
Iowa 82.8%
Kansas 81.1%
Kentucky 83.7%
Louisiana 77.8%
Maine 86.2%
Maryland 86.8%
Massachusetts 82.3%
Michigan 81.0%
Minnesota 86.2%
Mississippi 83.6%
Missouri 79.2%
Montana 81.6%
Nebraska 83.1%
Nevada 87.0%
New Hampshire 81.7%
New Jersey 80.7%
New Mexico 80.6%
New York 86.4%
North Carolina 87.9%
North Dakota 81.3%
Ohio 82.8%
Oklahoma 80.3%
Oregon 86.6%
Pennsylvania 79.4%
Rhode Island 84.0%
South Carolina 86.2%
South Dakota 84.0%
Tennessee 88.1%
Texas 82.2%
Utah 75.3%
Vermont 91.2%
Virginia 83.8%
Washington 80.3%
West Virginia 79.0%
Wisconsin 81.5%
Wyoming 75.0%

Notes: Values represent averages 2013- 2015.

Source: EPI analysis of Current Population Survey microdata.

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Figure N

The gender wage gap is larger outside of metropolitan areas: Gender ratio in median hourly wages by location, 2015

Location Gender pay ratio
Workers everywhere 83.38%
Metro areas 83.77
Non-metro areas 81.90
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Notes: Chart compares the ratio of median hourly wages of women to men in metropolitan versus non-metropolitan areas.

Source: EPI analysis of Current Population Survey microdata.

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Figure O

Eliminating the gender and inequality wage gap would raise women’s wages by 67%: Median hourly wages for men and women, compared with wages for all workers had they increased in tandem with productivity, 1979–2015

Year Wages for all workers Men’s wages Women’s wages Wages for all workers had they grown in tandem with productivity
1979 $16.03 $20.17 $12.64 $16.03
1980 $15.87 $19.86 $12.60 $15.91
1981 $15.46 $19.45 $12.50 $16.26
1982 $15.68 $19.30 $12.51 $16.01
1983 $15.60 $19.04 $12.67 $16.50
1984 $15.67 $18.95 $12.78 $16.93
1985 $15.81 $19.13 $12.84 $17.21
1986 $16.12 $19.68 $13.17 $17.56
1987 $16.12 $19.56 $13.51 $17.65
1988 $16.02 $19.19 $13.64 $17.86
1989 $15.93 $18.64 $13.62 $18.00
1990 $15.93 $18.35 $13.66 $18.26
1991 $16.02 $18.31 $13.72 $18.40
1992 $16.16 $18.15 $13.83 $19.07
1993 $16.05 $18.00 $13.98 $19.13
1994 $15.77 $17.69 $13.87 $19.32
1995 $15.65 $17.96 $13.78 $19.32
1996 $15.58 $17.84 $13.84 $19.79
1997 $15.94 $17.95 $14.18 $20.07
1998 $16.39 $18.59 $14.54 $20.47
1999 $16.89 $19.06 $14.66 $20.96
2000 $16.84 $19.18 $14.96 $21.45
2001 $17.20 $19.45 $15.27 $21.79
2002 $17.35 $19.54 $15.66 $22.40
2003 $17.55 $19.38 $15.69 $23.12
2004 $17.55 $19.14 $15.67 $23.74
2005 $17.35 $18.98 $15.56 $24.16
2006 $17.42 $18.95 $15.58 $24.30
2007 $17.28 $19.26 $15.71 $24.47
2008 $17.34 $19.15 $15.81 $24.52
2009 $17.63 $19.68 $16.08 $25.02
2010 $17.40 $19.18 $15.98 $25.75
2011 $16.94 $18.67 $15.69 $25.78
2012 $16.83 $18.62 $15.41 $25.92
2013 $16.99 $18.42 $15.37 $25.96
2014 $16.92 $18.37 $15.23 $26.10
2015 $17.21  $18.84  $15.69   $26.20 
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Source: Reproduced from Figure G in Alyssa Davis and Elise Gould, Closing the Pay Gap and Beyond:
A Comprehensive Strategy for Improving Economic Security for Women and FamiliesEPI Briefing Paper #412, November 18, 2015

EPI analysis of unpublished Total Economy Productivity data from Bureau of Labor Statistics Labor Productivity and Costs program, wage data from the Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group

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Figure P

The gender wage gap persists, but has narrowed since 1979: Median hourly wages, by gender, 1979–2015

Year Men’s median hourly wages Women’s median hourly wages
1979-01-01 $20.20   $12.68 
1980-01-01 $19.88 $12.64
1981-01-01 $19.47 $12.52
1982-01-01 $19.32 $12.54
1983-01-01 $19.06 $12.68
1984-01-01 $18.96 $12.79
1985-01-01 $19.14 $12.85
1986-01-01 $19.69 $13.18
1987-01-01 $19.57 $13.52
1988-01-01 $19.20 $13.65
1989-01-01 $18.64 $13.63
1990-01-01 $18.05 $13.62
1991-01-01 $18.05 $13.67
1992-01-01 $17.99 $13.76
1993-01-01 $17.83 $13.91
1994-01-01 $17.69 $13.87
1995-01-01 $17.96 $13.78
1996-01-01 $17.84 $13.84
1997-01-01 $17.95 $14.18
1998-01-01 $18.59 $14.54
1999-01-01 $19.06 $14.67
2000-01-01 $19.18 $14.96
2001-01-01 $19.44 $15.27
2002-01-01 $19.54 $15.66
2003-01-01 $19.37 $15.69
2004-01-01 $19.13 $15.67
2005-01-01 $18.97 $15.55
2006-01-01 $18.94 $15.57
2007-01-01 $19.26 $15.71
2008-01-01 $19.15 $15.81
2009-01-01 $19.68 $16.08
2010-01-01 $19.18 $15.98
2011-01-01 $18.67 $15.69
2012-01-01 $18.62 $15.41
2013-01-01 $18.42 $15.37
2014-01-01 $18.37 $15.23
2015-01-01 $18.84  $15.69 
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Source: EPI analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata

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Figure Q

Less than half of workers at the bottom have access to paid vacation leave : Share of private-sector workers who receive paid vacation leave, by wage group, 2015

 Group 2015
Bottom 10% 40%
Bottom 25% 48%
Second 25% 84%
Third 25% 89%
Top 25% 91%
Top 10% 92%

 

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Source: EPI analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics Employee Benefits Survey

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Figure R

Elderly women are more likely than elderly men to be economically vulnerable: Share of the elderly at various income levels, expressed as multiples of the supplemental poverty measure (SPM) threshold, by gender

Less than 1.0x SPM (economically vulnerable) [seriesoptions  color=”hsl(354, 73%, 30%)”] 1.0 to 1.99x SPM (economically vulnerable) [seriesoptions  color=”hsl(354, 73%, 43%)”] 2.0 to 3.99x SPM At or above 4.0x SPM
Women, age 65+ 17.2% 35.3%  31.5%  16.0%
Men, age 65+ 12.7%  29.2%  35.1%  23.0%
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Source: EPI analysis of pooled 2010–2012 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement microdata

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States with unemployment rates of 10 percent or higher by race

Despite small positive signs, the nation remains in a period of very high unemployment. While all groups are experiencing significant economic hardship, the burden of high unemployment is not spread uniformly by race. Figure A shows the states where whites, Latinos, and blacks have unemployment rates of 10 percent or higher. In the third quarter of 2011, whites experienced this level of unemployment only in California and Nevada. Latinos, however, had unemployment rates at or above 10 percent in 14 states, while this was the case for blacks in 25 states. Blacks also have the misfortune of having unemployment rates above 20 percent in five states.

Figure A

States with white, Latino, and black unemployment rates of 10% or higher, third quarter, 2011, and projected fourth quarter, 2012

(Red highlighting indicates an unemployment rate over 20%)

Note: Based on states with sufficient data by race for reliable estimates

Sources: EPI estimates based on data from the Current Population Survey and the Local Area Unemployment Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and December 2011 projections from Moody’s Economy.com

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In the fourth quarter of 2012, the unemployment rate for each race in nearly every state is projected to remain very similar to the level recorded in the third quarter of 2011. The white unemployment rate in California is projected to fall from 10 percent in the third quarter of 2011 to 8.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, dropping it out of the 10-percent-or-above states for whites in Figure A.

For Latinos and African Americans, the states with unemployment rates of 10 percent or higher in the third quarter of 2011 are projected to have similarly high unemployment rates at the end of 2012.

However, the states with black unemployment rates above 20 percent are projected to change slightly by the fourth quarter of 2012. The black unemployment rate in California is projected to decline from 21.3 percent in the third quarter of 2011 to 18.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. For blacks, the rate in Ohio is also expected to fall below 20 percent, while the rate in Indiana is projected to rise above 20 percent; however, in both states, the change is too small to be considered meaningful.

Conclusion

EPI economist Heidi Shierholz noted recently that “even at January’s growth rate, it would still take until 2019 to get back to full employment.” Current projections show that state unemployment rates by race will remain largely unchanged throughout 2012. To avoid this scenario, Congress should pass the American Jobs Act to help accelerate the rate of economic recovery.

This issue brief is supported by a grant from the Open Society Foundations

Methodology

The unemployment rate estimates in this issue brief are based on the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) and the Current Population Survey (CPS) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The overall state unemployment rate is taken directly from the LAUS. CPS six-month ratios are applied to LAUS data to calculate the rates by race and ethnicity. For each state subgroup, we calculate the unemployment rate using the past six months of CPS data. We then find the ratio of this subgroup rate to the state unemployment rate using the same period of CPS data. This gives us an estimate of how the subgroup compares to the state overall.

For our projections, we use the same method but modify it slightly. We find the subgroup state ratios from the most recent six months of data, and then multiply this ratio by the projected state unemployment rate for a given quarter.

In many states, the sample size of these subgroups is not large enough to create an accurate estimate of their unemployment rate. We only report data for groups which had, on average, a sample size of at least 700 in the labor force for each six-month period.

Reference

Shierholz, Heidi. 2012. “U.S. Labor Market Starts 2012 with Solid Positive Signs but Fewer Jobs than It Had 11 Years Ago.” Economic Policy Institute Economic Indicators, February 3. http://www.epi.org/publication/labor-market-starts-2012-solid-positive/


See related work on Race and Ethnicity

See more work by Algernon Austin