What Color is Your Paycheck?

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What Color is Your Paycheck?

InsideCapitolDome
Disparities in Annual Pay Between White and Minority Workers Living in Multnomah County

What Color is Your Paycheck?

Executive Summary

If you live in Multnomah County, the color of your skin makes a noticeable difference in the size of your paycheck. White workers earn significantly more than workers of color, even among workers with similar levels of education, work experience, and English proficiency.

Data from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey for 1996-98 shows that among workers living in Multnomah County:

  • On average, Latino workers earn 64 percent of the average white worker’s earnings.
  • On average, black workers earn about 74 percent of the average white worker’s earnings.
  • On average, Asian workers earn about 80 percent of the average white worker’s earnings.
  • Whites working for manufacturing companies earn over $33,000, on average. African Americans and workers of Asian heritage earn about $23,000, and Latino workers earn less than $17,000.
  • Whites working in service companies earn about $27,000 on average, while the average minority worker in the same type of company earns about $19,000.
  • Whites working as clerical workers, laborers, or non-managerial service employees earn about $17,000 annually, while Latinos in these jobs only earn about $12,000.
  • On average, white professionals and managers earn about $38,000, while people of color in these same types of jobs earn about $31,000.
  • White workers who are well-educated, experienced, and proficient in English earn about $50,000 on average, while minority workers with similar characteristics earn about $37,000.

While there is no simple solution to the earnings gap, tackling the issue will involve improving the educational system, addressing subtle forms of discrimination, and raising the wages of low-wage workers through increases in the minimum wage and unionization.

OCPP

OCPP

Written by staff at the Oregon Center for Public Policy.

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