Racial Pay Gap in the United States

The Disparity in Wages Between American Races

The disparity in wages between American races continues despite the efforts of equality advocates in the country. The highest paid Americans are primarily Asian Americans, followed by White Americans. Latin Americans are third on the list, followed by African Americans and then Native Americans (Hero & Levy, 2016). There are numerous reasons for such salary disparities, including racial discrimination, family dynamics, and educational opportunities. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it unlawful to discriminate against employees based on race. Unfortunately, the wealth gaps across American racial groups have not yet leveled off (Hero & Levy, 2016). After the passage of the 1964's Civil Rights Act, the minority groups' wage gap narrowed until the mid-1970s in absolute difference with the white wages. During that time, the progress for most American racial minorities slowed and eventually stopped. As of the year 2009, the median weekly pay for Hispanic and African American workers was about 61 percent and 65 percent that of the White American workers respectively (Hero & Levy, 2016). The weekly median wage for the Asian American workers was approximately 101 percent that of the White American workers. In overall, the payments for the minority American women, when compared to those of the White American women, are better than the wages of the minority American men when compared to those of the White American men (Hero & Levy, 2016).

Understanding the Inequalities in Payments for Different Races

Understanding the inequalities in payments for different races in essential in knowing the United States' overall racial inequality due to the integral role played by wages. The wages that result from the labor market form the primary income source for most American families and income is a critical indicator of socio-demographic status, which is helpful in creating an understanding regarding the building of wealth (Hero & Levy, 2016). Looking at ethnicity and race combined, all the American racial groups, except Asian Americans, lag behind the White Americans in the context of median hourly earnings. Therefore, the substantial racial wage gaps persist in the United States, despite having narrowed in some instances over the past years (Hero & Levy, 2016).

Pay Gap for the U.S. Disabled Workers

In the United States, workers with disabilities get paid about 10 percent less than other employees in similar job categories, and about 8 percent less in overall compensation, including health insurance, wages, and vacation time (Kraus, 2017). Additionally, individuals with disabilities in the United States are highly likely to choose jobs that pay lower wages but provide more benefit packages. The American workers with disabilities are also overrepresented in various manual labor jobs and, at the same time, underrepresented in different white-collar professions (Kraus, 2017).

According to Kraus (2017), most skilled jobs, including business, management, and various financial occupations, employ the lowest number of individuals with disabilities. Additionally, only about 21 percent of individuals with disabilities in the United States are either looking for a job or employed. Among those searching for jobs, the jobless rate stands at about 13 percent compared to about 7 percent for individuals without disabilities (Kraus, 2017).

Cutting the wage gap for the American workers with disabilities requires employers to put more efforts in raising awareness, as well as improving management training and expanding various programs and services to accommodate workers with disabilities (Kraus, 2017). Corporations also need to improve on their methods of measuring wage gaps by taking into considerations the concerns of the disabled employees. In fact, there is a need to include the wage gap for employees with disabilities in the checklist of every company to ensure fair pay practices (Kraus, 2017).

Gender Pay Gap in the United States

The United States' gender pay gap relates to the ration of women-to-men median annual earnings among the full-time workers. The latest statistics cite the adjusted yearly pay for an average woman as ranging between 78 and 82 percent of that of an average American man (Iocca, 2017). However, after making adjustments for various job choices made by female and male workers, current research finds that the pay rates between the American females and males vary by about 5 to 6.6 percent, or American women earn about 94 cents for every U.S. dollar earned by American men (Iocca, 2017). According to the research findings, the remaining six percent of the gender wage gap tends to originate from gender-based discrimination, as well as other gender differences relating to the willingness and ability to negotiate pay (Iocca, 2017).

The gender pay gap in the U.S. affects women from almost all ages, backgrounds, and education levels, although the wage gap also varies depending on women's socio-economic situations. Among the 2016 American full-time workers, the Hispanic, Black, Native Americans, and the Native Hawaiian women recorded a lower gender pay gap, compared to their men counterparts in the same racial groups, than did Asian American and White American women (Iocca, 2017). When compared with pay data for the White American male employees, the wages for Asian American women indicate the smallest gender wage gap, at about 87 percent of the White American men's earnings. The pay gap is widest for the Hispanic women, who received about 54 percent of what White American men earned as of 2016 (Iocca, 2017).

American corporations appear to be biased towards the female gender. That is because despite having similar job qualifications, in the context of education, and same job descriptions, American female workers continue to earn less than their male counterparts across all the American races (Iocca, 2017). Besides, although most corporate CEOs have been voicing their commitment to offering fair payments for employees, American women have not experienced meaningful improvements, and there is, therefore, an urgent need for American companies to effectively address the gender pay gap issue (Iocca, 2017).


Hero, R., & Levy, M. (2016). The Racial Structure of Economic Inequality in the United States: Understanding Change and Continuity in an Era of “Great Divergence.” Social Science Quarterly, 97(3), 491-505. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ssqu.12327

Iocca, E. (2017). Gender Wage Gap. The Journal of The American Dental Association, 148(9), 630. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.adaj.2017.07.015

Kraus, L. (2017). 2016 Disability Statistics 2016 Annual Report. Durham, NH: University of New Hampshire. Retrieved from https://disabilitycompendium.org/sites/default/files/user-uploads/2016_AnnualReport.pdf

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