Racial Wage Gap

The best way to advance policies to raise living standards for working people is for diverse groups to recognize that they share more in common than not. Since class identity has often been racialized, one of the greatest challenges to rebuilding the economic power of the working class lies in establishing multiracial solidarity on a national scale. It is important to remember that the same special interest groups that fund the opposition to policies such as the minimum wage and paid sick leave, and that support efforts to undermine collective bargaining power, are often the same ones aligned with support of voter suppression tactics that limit voting among people of color, low-income individuals, students, seniors, and people with disabilities. The best way to advance the needed economic policies is for diverse groups to recognize that they share more in common than not and work together to achieve their overlapping and intersecting agendas. Getting to that point requires honesty and a collective reckoning about race, white privilege, and institutional racism, with respect to the costs and benefits to each of us.

Advancing policies that address persistent racial disparities while also tackling class inequality will require abandoning the zero-sum mindset that says one group’s set of issues is totally distinct from and in direct competition with another’s. Overcoming this trap begins with defining a broader view of how all the issues are related. It will take a considerable amount of ongoing effort to shift the dominant narrative from one that divides the masses to one that creates a new world of possibilities that benefits all of us.

Publications

State of Working North Carolina

  • September 6, 2018
  • North Carolina Justice Center
  • Alexandra Forter Sirota, Allan Freyer, Patrick McHugh, Suzy Khachaturyan, William Munn, and Hyun Namkoong
As North Carolina grapples with the best way to build stronger regional economies, policymakers should consider the central and positive role that public infrastructure can play in deepening the connections for the state’s workforce to jobs, the state’s businesses to markets and the state’s residents to well-being.
This year’s State of Working North Carolina report presents the ways in which public infrastructure and local assets — specifically, anchor institutions — can help connect workers in rural areas to jobs, boost rural communities, and contribute to more equitable growth of the state’s economy.

State of Working Wisconsin 2018

A decade after the Great Recession, Wisconsin’s economy, at least in employment and family income, has finally and meaningfully recovered. Unemployment and involuntary part-time employment rates are low. And, nearly a fifth of the way into this new century, the value of the median income of four-person families finally exceeds its 2000 level. This is very welcome news for working Wisconsinites.

This good news is not untarnished. Despite job gains, Wisconsin’s job growth is slow relative to the national pace. Wages are still in no way keeping pace with worker productivity. Wisconsin is comparatively weak in more lucrative occupations: professional, scientific, technical, and information. Our manufacturing sector, while growing, is a still significantly smaller than at the beginning of the century. And inequality continues to grow. One in five workers currently holds a poverty-wage job with few benefits. Rural economies are declining. Wisconsin’s black/white disparities still lead the nation.

State of Working Colorado

Colorado has one of the strongest performing economies in the country. Job growth has been robust for the past several years, consistently ranking Colorado among the top states for job creation. The unemployment rate has dropped steadily since 2010 to 3.3 percent in 2016. Real median household income continues to grow and is now slightly above the pre-recession level. And poverty rates have fallen since 2012, dropping to 11 percent in 2016.

Yet, this report points to several challenges to achieving an economic recovery in Colorado that is broadly shared and enduring:

  • The median hourly wage has been falling or flat since the recovery began.
  • Economic gains are increasingly concentrated among a small share of high earners in the state.
  • While jobs have returned to the state, not all workers have returned to work.
  • Colorado is increasingly becoming a multiracial state with a persistent race-based economic divide.

The State of Black Families in Rhode Island

Our latest report provides details about key economic and social indicators for Black families in the Ocean State and documents the disparities with their White counterparts. Making sure all Rhode Islanders have access to good jobs that allow them to provide for themselves and their families is vital for our state’s future.

 

This report shines a bright light on continued disparities, laying the foundation for a concerted public policy response to redress historical wrongs through proactive public policy solutions.