One Equal World

Income Inequality between White and Black Men Same Now as in 1950

Posted on: January 6, 2017

A close-up photo of an older African American male.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

On the lower end of the economic spectrum, especially those with less than a high school education, the earnings gap between black and white men has returned to the rate it was at in 1950. The job market for less educated individuals has all but collapsed, which has dragged down the median income for black men because, even among the most economically disadvantaged, black men are in the worst position.

While that gap narrowed between 1950 and the Civil Rights Movement, by 1970 it was beginning to open up again as more and more jobs required college degrees. In 1940, not having a high school diploma wasn’t much of a problem. But by 2014, it essentially kept people from working, or at least making enough to get by.

The Civil Rights Movement did help open up access to universities and to higher paying jobs, and top black salaries have continued to go up since the 1960s, but that is true of top salaries across the board. But as working class jobs have declined and mass incarceration policies have unfairly targeted black men, it has become increasingly difficult for some to land worthwhile jobs.

This, of course, highlights the very real racial inequalities that plague the United States. Thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement, a lot of these racial inequalities are finally being openly talked about.

Ironically, the racially-charged presidential campaign of Donald Trump also highlighted these inequalities, as we saw the campaign pin the loss of working class jobs on minorities and immigrants. But now that he’s officially been elected, it’s up to us, the people, to hold public demonstrations that bring this issue to light. We need to let the government know that we will not tolerate discrimination in any form. We are moving forward, not backwards, and so we cannot let the income gap further dismantle our progress.

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