- The pay gap between black and white Americans just got wider, Bloomberg reports. Age, education, job and geographical differences aside, black workers are now earning even less than their white counterparts, says Bloomberg, citing research from the San Francisco Federal Reserve.
- Black men's average hourly earnings were 80% of that of white men's in 1979. By 2016, the pay gap widened to 70% on the dollar, says Bloomberg. The wage gap between blacks and whites also worsened for black women.
- The pay gap between the two groups usually narrows in a robust economy and widens again in a down-turned economy, says Bloomberg. But a gap that lingers and even widens means it isn't likely to close over time. Researchers identified differences in education and work experience, as well as racism, as possible factors in the widening gap, but couldn't identify what they said might be other causes, according to Bloomberg.
Black unemployment has been historically twice that of whites. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics puts unemployment for African-Americans age 16 and older at 7.3% in the second quarter of 2017 and 3.7% for white Americans during the same period. With all employment factors being equal, a persistent and widening pay gap is troubling for skilled black workers looking to get hired and employers who claim they can't fill job openings.
Black women and men have a strong presence in healthcare, services and construction — which economists call mid-market industries — with annual earnings between $10 million and $1 billion. Mid-market firms have been hit hard by talent shortages, according to a joint report by the National Center for the Middle Market and the Brookings Institution. These industries, along with apprenticeships, might help reduce, or at least slow, the racial disparity in pay.
As with the gender-based pay gap, recruiters need to make sure their selection of candidates is free of bias and based first and foremost on a job's qualifications. Technology now enables recruiters to avoid bias in hiring, as well as recognize their own biases in candidate selection. Some employers are removing names from resumes to prevent applicants with ethnic-sounding names from being systematically removed from the candidate pool.
HR managers can lead the effort to eliminate hiring bias. Periodic audits by HR can uncover unexplainable pay disparities that could be based on race.