Economic Snapshot | Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy (PREE)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership would hurt black and Hispanic workers even more than white workers

The White House is making one last push for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. However, growing imports of goods from low-wage, less-developed countries, which nearly tripled from 2.9 percent of GDP in 1989 to 8.4 percent in 2011, reduced the wages of the typical non-college educated worker in 2011 by “5.5 percent, or by roughly $1,800—for a full-time, full year worker earning the average wage for workers without a four-year college degree,” as shown by my colleague Josh Bivens.

Overall, there are nearly 100 million American workers without a 4-year degree. The wage losses suffered by this group amount to roughly a full percentage point of GDP—about $180 billion per year. Workers without a 4-year degree constitute a bit less than 70 percent of the overall workforce, but three-quarters of black workers (75.5 percent) and more than four-fifths (85.0 percent) of Hispanic workers do not have a 4-year degree. While educational attainment levels for blacks and Hispanics are rising, differences remain.

Economic Snapshot

The Trans-Pacific Partnership would hurt black and Hispanic workers even more than white workers: Share of working people without a four-year college degree, by gender, race and ethnicity

 Race/Ethnicity Male Female
White 63.3% 61.5% 
Black 77.9% 73.5%
Hispanic 87.0% 82.3%


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Source: EPI analysis of Current Population Survey microdata.

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Six of the twelve members of the TPP (Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Chile, and Brunei) are low-wage, developing countries, and if the TPP leads to expanding trade with these countries it will contribute to a continuing growth of imports and growing downward pressure on the wages of non-college educated workers. This deal would be especially harmful to black and Hispanic workers, who already suffer higher unemployment and lower wages than whites.