It can be said that today, African Americans are better of then they have been in the past, but there remain significant inequalities when it comes to employment and wages.
The unemployment rate hit an 18-low back in May when it dropped to 3.8 percent. All that looks like good news until you look at the numbers in regard to African Americans. African Americans continue to lag whites in terms of employment, and, although that gap has narrowed in recent years, the gap in wages between whites and blacks has actually increased over the past two decades.
The numbers do show a narrowing gap in the unemployment rate between whites and blacks. For whites, the unemployment rate was 3.5 percent and for blacks, it was 5.9 percent. The 2.4 percentage gap is indeed an improvement. But while the unemployment gap has narrowed a bit, the wage gap has been widening. For those without a high school degree in 2000, whites earned $1.48 more an hour on average than blacks. In 2017, that gap grew to $2.41. The gap persisted for all education levels, but it was at its widest for those at the top end. For those with an advanced degree in 2000, whites earned $5.13 more an hour than blacks. In 2017, that gap was $7.98.
According to the data, while everyone was affected by the recent financial crisis, whites recovered and grew their wages within a few years. But for African Americans it’s been a different story. While they also took a hit during the recession, their wages haven’t fully recovered. In some education brackets, blacks actually earn slightly less per hour than they did before the financial crisis.
In many ways, blacks are falling behind in this time of economic expansion and the consensus among experts is we need to do more to find out why and find solutions that can lead to a better economy for all segments of the population.