Race and Ethnicity

Minority workers gain ground in the 1990s

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A weekly presentation of downloadable charts and short analyses designed to graphically illustrate important economic issues. Updated every Wednesday.

Snapshot for July 21, 1999


Minority workers gain ground in the 1990s

Minorities have been major beneficiaries in the economic recovery of the 1990s. The first shows that unemployment numbers for black and Hispanic workers have dropped significantly over the past decade. However, despite progress on this front, unemployment levels for these minority workers are still about twice as high as their white counterparts.

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Due to this low unemployment environment, minority workers have also regained a measure of income lost earlier in the decade. In particular, strong employer demand coupled with the tight labor market and an increased minimum wage have contributed to broad-based wage gains for workers since 1996. The median wage growth for black and Hispanic workers has actually exceeded that of their white counterparts in the past few years, helping to lessen long-term wage disparities between the groups. But as of 1998, median black and Hispanic workers earned just $0.78 and $0.66, respectively, for every dollar earned by whites.

The second figure tracks the (inflation-adjusted) median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers since 1989.

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Source: The State of Working America 1998-99, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Census Bureau.


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