The Bureau of Labor Statistics released last month a report on earnings of wage salary workers with the most updated information regarding this matter. The numbers speak for themselves.
The Wage Gap
While the median weekly earnings at a national level was $1,085 in the fourth quarter of 2022, there were significant differences depending on race and ethnicity groups.
Ranked, the study showed these results for median weekly earnings:
- Asians $1,496
- Whites $1,111
- Blacks $896
- Hispanics $837
The differences show not only in terms of salary but also in terms of employment, with more black people unemployed compared to white.
Even, as companies seem to make efforts to provide equal opportunities to employees regardless of race or ethnicity, the gap is clear.
The unequal distribution of capital pays a big part. People without access to certain social networks and connections with individuals who are higher earning will naturally experience difficulties achieving upward economic mobility. Clearly, having higher earning contacts will facilitate individual’s chances of becoming higher earning persons themselves.
Also, certain groups are often recruited by specific companies and fields. For example, many professions and companies require post-secondary education.
This issue exacerbates the gap, since job positions that require a higher education receive usually higher pay. However, the earnings for workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher reflected a similar pattern in salary disparities by race as described above. The gaps remained for people with the same education level. Workers of Asian descent had the highest pay, followed by White, then Black and lastly Latino.
What about gender?
Studies show the following results:
- Black women earned 90% as much as Black men
- Hispanic women earned 86.5% as much as Hispanic men
- White women earned 83% as much as White men
- Asian women earned 81.5% as much as Asian men
In summary, in all ethnicity groups, no exceptions, women earn less than men.
Discrimination can be hard to prove. Someone’s salary is determined by a variety of factors such as education, experience or titles. But what happens when a coworker seems to have exactly the same background and qualifications and yet he or she makes more than you?
When age, ethnicity or gender are the only factors that differentiate you from another worker, yet there are salary differences between you two, it may be feasible to bring a wage claim. Companies should not hide wage discrepancies under invalid reasons such as better negotiating skills or higher salary from a former position.
Income inequality has been a historic problem and there have been numerous efforts to narrow the gap, the most notorious one perhaps being the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Nevertheless, these differences persist, so workers should benefit from the rights the law confers to them and seek justice when these issues come to light.