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Mission Matters - July/August 2023

Why do White Americans have on average 13 times more wealth than African Americans? There have been government policies since the Civil War that have led to this disparity. Bread for the World has documented some of these policies. Here is their Policy # 12 contributing to the gap.

Minding the Gap: Employment Discrimination

Although racial discrimination in the workforce was legally abolished in 1964 with the Civil Rights Act, racial discrimination continues among all educational levels and job sectors. For example, blacks are twice as likely not to be called back after they complete job applications or interviews. In addition, the gap between the hourly pay of blacks and whites has grown from $3.55/hour in 1979 to $6.73/hour in 2016.

How does employment discrimination contribute to the racial hunger, income, and wealth gaps?

Being less likely to be recruited, hired, given a fair starting wage, or promoted prevents African American workers from advancing and earning to their potential. Racial discrimination also makes African Americans more vulnerable to unemployment as well as being underemployed or having little choice but to accept lower salary offers.

Older Americans of color are likely to have earned lower wages for their entire careers because of racial bias in the workplace—preventing many from saving enough for retirement. The average savings of African Americans and Latinos who are nearing retirement is $30,000, only one-fourth the average $120,000 that whites in the same age group have. This increases the likelihood of African Americans facing food insecurity and/or unmet healthcare needs as they get older.

Mending the Gap:

To learn more, here are some websites with information about employment discrimination:

1. National Bureau of Economic Research. “Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal: A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination” July 2003.

2. Wilson, Valerie and William M. Rodgers. “Black-white wage gaps expanding with rising wage inequality.” Economic Policy Institute. September 2016. EPI

3. Race and Retirement Insecurity in the United States. The National Institute on Retirement Security. Nari Rhee, PhD. December 2013.


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