DCentric » Economy http://dcentric.wamu.org Race, Class, The District. Wed, 16 May 2012 20:20:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Copyright © WAMU D.C.’s Pay Gap Between Women Of Color And White Men http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/04/d-c-s-pay-gap-between-women-of-color-and-white-men/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/04/d-c-s-pay-gap-between-women-of-color-and-white-men/#comments Fri, 13 Apr 2012 18:06:01 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=15380 Continue reading ]]>

Victor1558 / Flickr

The average woman in D.C. earns less than the average man, but that wage gap varies widely once race is taken into consideration. For example, white women earn 79 cents for every $1 a white, non-Hispanic man earns, but Hispanic women earn 41 cents for every $1 a white, non-Hispanic man earns. These numbers come from the National Women’s Law Center, which released state-specific data on the gender pay gap.

The table below compares how much the average woman earns to how much the average man earns, broken down by race:

Women/Men Black women/white men Hispanic women/white men White women/white men
91 cents/$1 51 cents/$1 41 cents/$1 79 cents/$1

D.C. has one of the lowest overall wage gaps when compared to other states and the national average of 77 cents on the dollar. But comparing D.C. to other states is an apples-and-oranges kind of comparison, so NWLC senior policy analyst Katherine Gallagher Robbins sent us the statistics of nearby cities to get a sense of how the District fares.

The gap in pay between men and women in D.C. is the second smallest among Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, Atlanta and New York City (which came in first, with 93 cents on the dollar). But take race into account, and D.C. doesn’t do so well anymore; of the aforementioned cities, only Atlanta has a larger pay gap between minority women and white men. In the Georgia city, black and Hispanic women make about 42 cents for every $1 white men earn.

Increasing college degrees among black and Hispanic women in D.C. could help make a dent in the wage gap — 23 percent of D.C.’s black women hold at least a bachelor’s degree and 35 percent of the city’s Hispanic women hold such degrees, while 86 percent of white men do, according to census estimates. But even the average college-educated woman in D.C earn 12 cents less than the average college-educated man, according to NWLC.

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How to Close the Wealth Gap http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/07/how-to-close-the-wealth-gap/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/07/how-to-close-the-wealth-gap/#comments Thu, 28 Jul 2011 17:40:25 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=9159 Continue reading ]]>

David Steltz / Flickr

The gap in wealth between whites, blacks and Hispanics has grown to historic levels, as discussed on today’s Diane Rehm Show.

“These people draw upon their assets… to finance their children’s education, or to help with children’s tuition or to use as a down payment on their first home,” Roderick Harrison, senior research fellow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, said on the show. “This will play out not only until we see the net worth of these families rising back to the levels that they rose to in 2005, but it will play out in the lives of their children.”

We caught up with Harrison after the show to ask if D.C., with its rising home prices, stands in contrast to the growing wealth gap seen on a national level. He said, “D.C. is an exaggeration. It’s more polarized by income and by race [than elsewhere].”

The District’s whitest ward is also the ward with the most high-income residents; and the wards with the highest concentration of African Americans are also the most low-income areas.

The growing racial wealth gap is partially attributed to the housing crisis — blacks and Hispanics had more of their wealth tied up in their home equity before the bubble burst. But D.C. didn’t suffer the same drop in housing prices that communities around the country did — values are actually increasing.

“The rising housing prices are probably exacerbating [the gap] in that while it increased the equity of those who are homeowners and particularly in the hotter residential neighborhoods, it is probably pushing out people who are renters or homeowners who can’t keep up with the increasing housing costs,” Harrison noted.

Some black homeowners left D.C. for majority-black Prince George’s County, which now has the worst foreclosure rate in the metro area. For homeowners who did hold on in D.C. “that group benefits.” But renters are left vulnerable if landlords want to convert their apartments into luxury units or condos, Harrison said.

So what is needed to close the gap?

“Until you have the jobs back, you can’t get the wealth back,” he said. “Employment is the beginning and it’s the end.”

That may take awhile; the latest jobs report showed dismal figures, and blacks and Latinos are still facing higher unemployment rates than their white counterparts who have the same education levels.

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Racial Wealth Gap Reaches Historic Levels http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/07/racial-wealth-gap-reaches-historic-levels/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/07/racial-wealth-gap-reaches-historic-levels/#comments Tue, 26 Jul 2011 15:13:18 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=9088 Continue reading ]]>

MoneyBlogNewz / Flickr

The wealth gap between whites and minorities has always been wide, but the recession has deepened the division to a record level.

The racial difference in wealth — how much a person owns minus any debt — is the most severe its been since the government began publishing the data in the 1970s, according to a new Pew Research Center report.

Members of the black middle class have seen many of the economic gains they’ve achieved over the past few decades erased or reversed during the recession, and black households have much less wealth than other groups. But Hispanic households experienced the biggest drop in household wealth during the recession:

Median Net Worth of Households
2005 2009 Percentage Change
White $134,992 $113,149 -6 percent
Black $12,124 $5,677 -53 percent
Hispanic $18,359 $6,325 -66 percent
(Source: Pew Research Center)

The housing crisis is one of the principal causes of the gap widening, according to the report. Hispanics and blacks had more of their wealth tied up in home equity, so when home values dropped or homes went into foreclosure, they saw much of their wealth disappear.

The study examined wealth between 2005 and 2009. Since then, housing prices have risen, particularly in D.C. But an increased home value may not be enough to offset lasting effects of the recession on minorities, as NPR reports:

Tom Shapiro of Brandeis University, who has studied the racial wealth gap for years, says he’s concerned about the long-term impact. He thinks the wealth gap will likely grow even more, unless the economy turns around soon.

“If a family doesn’t have enough for a safety net for itself, it can’t think about moving forward or moving ahead,” he says.

That means fewer resources for things like education or buying a house or starting a business. Shapiro says that only puts the average minority family further behind, and less able to weather the next economic storm.

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Five Factors Causing the ‘Decimation’ of the Black Middle Class http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/07/five-factors-causing-the-decimation-of-the-black-middle-class/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/07/five-factors-causing-the-decimation-of-the-black-middle-class/#comments Mon, 11 Jul 2011 18:49:28 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=8646 Continue reading ]]>

Alex Wong / Getty Images

The Rev. Jesse Jackson (L) hold the hands of Angela Walker (R) in Suitland, Md. after a rally against foreclosures in the hard-hit, majority-black county. Walker is recently unemployed and facing foreclosure.

The recession from 2007 to 2009 has hit nearly all sectors and communities in the American economy, but minorities, and particularly African Americans, may have been affected the most. Jesse Washington’s recent Associated Press story about how the recession reversed many of the economic gains that took the black community many years to attain contains some grim statistics: in 2009, the average black household had only 2 cents for every dollar of wealth held by the average white household, and in April 2010, black male unemployment hit its highest point since the government began tracking it in 1972.

“History is going to say that the black middle class was decimated,” Maya Wiley, director of the Center for Social Inclusion, tells Washington. “But we’re not done writing history.”

What has led to such extreme losses? Here are five factors contributing to the “decimation” of the black middle class:
1. Wealth versus income

The wealth gap between whites and blacks in the same socioeconomic classes had quadrupled in the decade preceding the recession [PDF]. Wealth is how much a person owns, minus any debt. So even if African Americans had made strides to hold jobs with incomes that took them into the middle and upper classes, as a whole, their accumulated wealth wasn’t on par with their white counterparts.

For instance, in 2007, about 63 percent of black Americans’ net worth was tied to their housing, compared to 38.5 percent for white Americans . A loss of income, depreciated home values or losing a home to foreclosure — all of those have a greater power to knock you out of your socioeconomic class if you don’t have some accumulated wealth to rely upon.

2. Foreclosures
It’s been well-documented [PDF] that sub-prime mortgage lending, which contributed greatly to the foreclosure crisis, targeted minority neighborhoods, regardless of class.

Locally, the area that was hit the hardest by the foreclosure crisis was Prince George’s County, the country’s wealthiest majority black county. In Prince George’s County, half of the county’s sales have been foreclosure-based this year.

3. Loss of government jobs

The public sector has cut the most jobs out of any industry this year, and black people hold a disproportionately high number of government jobs [PDF]. For years, African Americans have often relied upon government jobs as alternatives to the private sector. They presented a way to circumvent discrimination that prevented them from private sector jobs.

4. College-educated and unemployed

For many Americans, a college degree translates to better job opportunities and increased job security. And although that’s diminished during the recession, college-educated African Americans are more likely to be unemployed than college-educated white Americans. According to the AP story:

In 2007, unemployment for college-educated whites was 1.8 percent; for college-educated blacks it was 2.7 percent. Now, the college-educated unemployment rate is 3.9 percent for whites and 7 percent for blacks.

The situation is even worse for recent college grads who don’t have years’ of experience in the workforce to help them: in 2010, the jobless rate for black college graduates under 25 was 19 percent, compared to 8.4 percent for white men.

5. The ‘old boys network’ and discrimination

It’s only been a few decades since anti-discrimination laws have been passed and thoroughly enforced, but it took even longer for the effects to trickle through the black community, Wiley tells Washington. That means fewer generations’ of minorities have been able to climb corporate ladders.

Chris Wilder, a 43-year-old black unemployed journalist who fell victim to losses in the media industry, describes the situation to Washington this way:

“It’s definitely harder for black people to get jobs… With the economy as bad as it is, people are hiring nephews and family friends and friends of friends. It’s hard for black people to break that cycle. We don’t own or even run the big companies.”

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Latest Government Job Cuts May Hit African Americans Hardest http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/07/latest-government-job-cuts-may-hit-african-americans-hardest/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/07/latest-government-job-cuts-may-hit-african-americans-hardest/#comments Fri, 08 Jul 2011 15:47:56 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=8596 Continue reading ]]>  

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The latest jobs report released Friday shows that unemployment has risen from 9.1 to 9.2 percent, with government jobs getting the most cuts. And such public sector losses disproportionately affect African Americans, given that a larger percentage of working black adults hold government jobs than working white or Hispanic adults [PDF].

June saw the loss of 39,000 government jobs. And the June unemployment rate for whites was 8.1 percent; for blacks, it was 16.2 percent; and for Hispanics, 11.6 percent. The huge public sector losses may be contributing to the disparity in unemployment rates, reports Huffington Post‘s Janell Ross:

The loss of government paychecks erodes one of the great equalizing forces at play in the American economy for more than a century. A government job has long offered a pathway for African Americans to sidestep discrimination that has impeded progress in the private sector, where social networks often determine who has a shot at the best jobs, say experts….

“Many of the black people you don’t hear about on the news, the black people who own homes, who can afford to send their children to college and have modest savings, many of them worked for some branch of government before the recession began,” said Steven Pitts, a labor economist at the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education. “There is good reason to be very concerned about what will happen when this work disappears.”

D.C.’s unemployment rate was 9.8 percent in May. But the rates differ ward-by-ward [PDF]. The District’s poorest and nearly all-black wards saw May unemployment range between 16.8 and 24.9 percent. Conversely, the city’s wealthiest, and whitest, ward saw a May rate of 2.6 percent.

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The Unemployment Rate for African American College Grads http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/11/the-unemployment-rate-for-african-american-college-grads/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/11/the-unemployment-rate-for-african-american-college-grads/#comments Thu, 11 Nov 2010 20:14:55 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=2012 Continue reading ]]>


Even if you go to college and “do the right thing” by getting a degree, you still may find yourself out of work…especially if you are black:

Education is not a guaranteed path to wealth for any race or demographic. Still, education should be at least a more secure path towards finding employment. It should be but it is not so for many African American college graduates. According to the latest release by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate among African American college graduates who are 25 and older is 7.3 percent…

As expected, since the year 2000 African American college graduates have always had the highest rates of unemployment. However, in 2006, during the nationwide housing boom, African American graduates narrowed the gap between their unemployment rate and the rates of the other races to less than one percentage point. However, as the economy worsened, that gap began to grow. Then between 2008 and 2009, the unemployment rate for African American college graduates jumped from an average of 4 percent to 7.3 percent.

Of course, the statistics are worse if you are a drop-out:

Those who have attained a degree are better off in the job market than those without one. While the unemployment rate for African Americans with college degrees stands at 7.3 percent, the unemployment rate for African American who drop out of high school is an alarming 21.3 percent. This is triple the rate for African American who have college degrees.

In fact, African American dropouts have the highest rate of unemployment among any segment and of any race.

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DC Home Prices Rise http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/08/dc-home-prices-rise/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/08/dc-home-prices-rise/#comments Wed, 25 Aug 2010 21:22:27 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=222 Continue reading ]]> People bought fewer houses nationwide in the month of July than they did in June, but when they DID buy a home, they paid more than they would have in 2009. The Washington Business Journal reports:

Existing-home sales plunged nationwide in July, but prices were higher than a year ago with price gains in Washington among the biggest in the nation…

In Washington, the year-over-year price gain was 4 percent, to an average sales price of $351,100. Washington’s gain in prices was the fourth strongest among the nation’s 20 largest markets, topped only by Boston, New York and San Diego.

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