• <div class="header-image" style="background-image: url(/live/image/gid/4/2897_V6N9_Header.rev.1540219621.jpg);">​</div><div class="header-background-color"/>

Race, Economic Inequality and the 2016 Election

October 05, 2016
As the presidential election nears, candidates are talking about the wage gap between men and women, but gendered income inequality isn’t the whole story. Race matters for wages as well, and to overlook how race and gender combine to produce economic outcomes is to overlook an American economic reality that should be front and center on the presidential debate stage this November.

By Gabrielle Jackson, C’18

 

For every dollar made by a white household, black households earn 59 cents; while the median white household earns $111,740, black families take back only $7,113 every year[1]. But broken down by gender, these statistics become even more stark.

 

US gender pay gap by sex, race and ethnicity, 2009US gender pay gap by sex, race and ethnicity, 2009

 

Black men take home 75 cents for every dollar a white man makes. But for black women, the number is 64 cents (and 54 cents for Hispanic women)[2]. The Roosevelt Institute found that unemployment among African Americans is twice as high as unemployment among white workers – a statistic that holds at all levels of education1. Black women account for eight percent of private sector employees, but only two percent of leadership roles[3].

“Black women are uniquely situated at the intersection of race, class, and gender hierarchies – historically and today,” asserts the Roosevelt Institute.

When it comes to income disparities, black women face a unique set of challenges. But to discuss them in the context of the election, we must first examine them in the context of history.

The racial rules engrained through slavery, Jim Crow, and the “race neutral” policies of the new Deal laid the groundwork for today’s black-white income disparity. And perhaps no example speaks as clearly to the way in which specific policies continue to haunt black communities as housing regulations. Through the Fair Housing Administration, established in 1934, the federal government played a direct role in enforcing housing segregation through redlining – a process that assigned value to areas based on credit-worthiness. These districts were usually designated based on racial and ethnic composition, thus encouraging white people to move out of the city while concentrating black people into low-income inner-city ghettos – ghettos that persist today[4].

Nationwide, black home ownership rates continue to pale in comparison to those of whites. According to economist Jeremie Greer, owning a home “is the primary vehicle of wealth building in this county”<[5]. This is even more important in the post-recession era when rising housing costs dramatically outpaced increases in black and ethnic minority wages. New Deal-era housing discrimination is just one example of how a century-old policy continues to have detrimental effects on the black community5.

Taken alone, the implications of these policies should elevate concerns over racial income equality to the top of today’s presidential agenda. But in 2016, what is striking is not merely that these income disparities are problematic, but that they are also getting worse.

In public sector jobs, the University of Washington found that the rate of employment for black women is lower than during pre-recession levels1. Moreover, the gap in employment between white and black workers has grown larger in every single year since 19671. These disparities persist despite the fact that black women are the most educated group in the United States per capita, according to the National Center for Education Statistics[6].

As concerns over the economy again become a talking point for Democrats and Republicans, the growing consequences of racial economic disparities should assume a prominent position in our political discourse – if for no other reason than they make America decidedly weaker.

Research shows that wage gaps hurt the economy. The American Association of University Women found that eliminating the gender wage gap would boost the economy three to four percentage points[7]. One can only imagine what the difference would be for the larger racial wage gap – specifically for black women who stand to be affected by both. It has also been shown that income inequality exacerbates differences in educational attainment. On a national scale, economists have demonstrated a negative correlation between the long-term economic growth and economic inequality[8].

 During a time in which nearly half of all Americans feel that discrimination against whites is as big of a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities11, the question during the 2016 election is not merely about whether liberal or conservative policies are most apt to address discrimination. The question also concerns whether liberal or conservative narratives adequately communicate the history of American racial inequality. That narrative is what informs public opinion and drives electoral outcomes. Accurately communicating history matters for reasons beyond principle – it matters for the economic advancement of disempowered communities.

When Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton discusses black unemployment and poverty[9][10], we cannot permit them to omit the historical and political legacies festering in the present day. Solving problems requires us to both recognize the root of our challenges and afford solutions a sense of urgency. Who is better suited to meet those challenges head on? This is the most important discussion of the election.

 

References

  [1] A. Flynn et al., “Rewrite the Racial Rules: Building an Inclusive American Economy,” Roosevelt Inst., New York, NY, Rep. June 2016.

  [2] “The Wage Gap, by Gender and Race,” [Online] Available: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0882775.html [Accessed: 24-July-2016].

  [3] “The Color of Leadership: Barriers, Bias, and Race,” [Online] Available: http://www.aauw.org/2016/04/19/color-of-leadership/ [Accessed: 25-July 2016].

  [4] P. Sharkey. Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress toward Racial Equality. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2013.

  [5] J. Greer, “Assets and Opportunity Scorecard,” Corporation for Enterprise Development, Washington, DC, Rep. 2016.

  [6] “The Condition of Education 2012,” 2012. [Online]. Available: https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2012045 [Accessed 25-July 2016].

  [7] T. Vega. “Why the Racial Wealth Gap Won’t Go Away,” 2016. [Online]. Available: http://money.cnn.com/2016/01/25/news/economy/racial-wealth-gap/ [Accessed: 24-July 2016].

  [8] E. Thorbecke and C. Charumilind, “Economic Inequality and Its Socioeconomic Impact,” Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, Rep. 2002.

  [9] D. Trump, “Republican National Convention speech,” Cleveland, OH, 2016.

  [10] “Clinton: Ending Racial Inequality will be ‘mission’ of Presidency,” 2016. [Online]. Available: http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/16/politics/hillary-clinton-civil-rights-groups-leaders-harlem/ [Accessed: 25-July 2016].

Student Blog Disclaimer
  • The views expressed on the Student Blog are the author’s opinions and don’t necessarily represent the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative’s strategies, recommendations, or opinions.

PENN WHARTON PPI
RESOURCE SPOTLIGHT:

  • <h3>National Center for Education Statistics</h3><p><strong><img width="400" height="80" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/400/height/80/479_nces.rev.1407787656.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image479 lw_align_right" data-max-w="400" data-max-h="80"/>The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations.</strong> NCES is located within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences. NCES has an extensive Statistical Standards Program that consults and advises on methodological and statistical aspects involved in the design, collection, and analysis of data collections in the Center. To learn more about the NCES, <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/about/" target="_blank">click here</a>.</p><p> Quick link to NCES Data Tools: <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/datatools/index.asp?DataToolSectionID=4" target="_blank">http://nces.ed.gov/datatools/index.asp?DataToolSectionID=4</a></p><p> Quick link to Quick Tables and Figures: <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/quicktables/" target="_blank">http://nces.ed.gov/quicktables/</a></p><p> Quick link to NCES Fast Facts (Note: The primary purpose of the Fast Facts website is to provide users with concise information on a range of educational issues, from early childhood to adult learning.): <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/" target="_blank">http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/#</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>HUD State of the Cities Data Systems</h3><p><strong><img width="200" height="200" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/200/height/200/482_hud_logo.rev.1407788472.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image482 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/200/height/200/482_hud_logo.rev.1407788472.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/200/height/200/482_hud_logo.rev.1407788472.jpg 3x" data-max-w="612" data-max-h="613"/>The SOCDS provides data for individual Metropolitan Areas, Central Cities, and Suburbs.</strong> It is a portal for non-national data made available through a number of outside institutions (e.g. Census, BLS, FBI and others).</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/socds.html" target="_blank">http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/socds.html</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>National Bureau of Economic Research (Public Use Data Archive)</h3><p><img width="180" height="43" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/43/478_nber.rev.1407530465.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image478 lw_align_right" data-max-w="329" data-max-h="79"/>Founded in 1920, the <strong>National Bureau of Economic Research</strong> is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of how the economy works. The NBER is committed to undertaking and disseminating unbiased economic research among public policymakers, business professionals, and the academic community.</p><p> Quick Link to <strong>Public Use Data Archive</strong>: <a href="http://www.nber.org/data/" target="_blank">http://www.nber.org/data/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>MapStats</h3><p> A feature of FedStats, MapStats allows users to search for <strong>state, county, city, congressional district, or Federal judicial district data</strong> (demographic, economic, and geographic).</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.fedstats.gov/mapstats/" target="_blank">http://www.fedstats.gov/mapstats/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Congressional Budget Office</h3><p><img width="180" height="180" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/180/380_cbo-logo.rev.1406822035.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image380 lw_align_right" data-max-w="180" data-max-h="180"/>Since its founding in 1974, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has produced independent analyses of budgetary and economic issues to support the Congressional budget process.</p><p> The agency is strictly nonpartisan and conducts objective, impartial analysis, which is evident in each of the dozens of reports and hundreds of cost estimates that its economists and policy analysts produce each year. CBO does not make policy recommendations, and each report and cost estimate discloses the agency’s assumptions and methodologies. <strong>CBO provides budgetary and economic information in a variety of ways and at various points in the legislative process.</strong> Products include baseline budget projections and economic forecasts, analysis of the President’s budget, cost estimates, analysis of federal mandates, working papers, and more.</p><p> Quick link to Products page: <a href="http://www.cbo.gov/about/our-products" target="_blank">http://www.cbo.gov/about/our-products</a></p><p> Quick link to Topics: <a href="http://www.cbo.gov/topics" target="_blank">http://www.cbo.gov/topics</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Federal Aviation Administration: Accident & Incident Data</h3><p><img width="100" height="100" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/100/height/100/80_faa-logo.rev.1402681347.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image80 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/100/height/100/80_faa-logo.rev.1402681347.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/100/height/100/80_faa-logo.rev.1402681347.jpg 3x" data-max-w="550" data-max-h="550"/>The NTSB issues an accident report following each investigation. These reports are available online for reports issued since 1996, with older reports coming online soon. The reports listing is sortable by the event date, report date, city, and state.</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.faa.gov/data_research/accident_incident/" target="_blank">http://www.faa.gov/data_research/accident_incident/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>The World Bank Data (U.S.)</h3><p><img width="130" height="118" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/130/height/118/484_world-bank-logo.rev.1407788945.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image484 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/130/height/118/484_world-bank-logo.rev.1407788945.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/130/height/118/484_world-bank-logo.rev.1407788945.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1406" data-max-h="1275"/>The <strong>World Bank</strong> provides World Development Indicators, Surveys, and data on Finances and Climate Change.</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://data.worldbank.org/country/united-states" target="_blank">http://data.worldbank.org/country/united-states</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Internal Revenue Service: Tax Statistics</h3><p><img width="155" height="200" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/155/height/200/486_irs_logo.rev.1407789424.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image486 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/155/height/200/486_irs_logo.rev.1407789424.jpg 2x" data-max-w="463" data-max-h="596"/>Find statistics on business tax, individual tax, charitable and exempt organizations, IRS operations and budget, and income (SOI), as well as statistics by form, products, publications, papers, and other IRS data.</p><p> Quick link to <strong>Tax Statistics, where you will find a wide range of tables, articles, and data</strong> that describe and measure elements of the U.S. tax system: <a href="http://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Stats-2" target="_blank">http://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Stats-2</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>NOAA National Climatic Data Center</h3><p><img width="200" height="198" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/200/height/198/483_noaa_logo.rev.1407788692.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image483 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/200/height/198/483_noaa_logo.rev.1407788692.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/200/height/198/483_noaa_logo.rev.1407788692.jpg 3x" data-max-w="954" data-max-h="945"/>NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is responsible for preserving, monitoring, assessing, and providing public access to the Nation’s treasure of <strong>climate and historical weather data and information</strong>.</p><p> Quick link to home page: <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/" target="_blank">http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/</a></p><p> Quick link to NCDC’s climate and weather datasets, products, and various web pages and resources: <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/quick-links" target="_blank">http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/quick-links</a></p><p> Quick link to Text & Map Search: <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/" target="_blank">http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>USDA Nutrition Assistance Data</h3><p><img width="180" height="124" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/124/485_usda_logo.rev.1407789238.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image485 lw_align_right" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/180/height/124/485_usda_logo.rev.1407789238.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/180/height/124/485_usda_logo.rev.1407789238.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1233" data-max-h="850"/>Data and research regarding the following <strong>USDA Nutrition Assistance</strong> programs are available through this site:</p><ul><li>Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) </li><li>Food Distribution Programs </li><li>School Meals </li><li>Women, Infants and Children </li></ul><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.fns.usda.gov/data-and-statistics" target="_blank">http://www.fns.usda.gov/data-and-statistics</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED®)</h3><p><strong><img width="180" height="79" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/79/481_fred-logo.rev.1407788243.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image481 lw_align_right" data-max-w="222" data-max-h="97"/>An online database consisting of more than 72,000 economic data time series from 54 national, international, public, and private sources.</strong> FRED®, created and maintained by Research Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, goes far beyond simply providing data: It combines data with a powerful mix of tools that help the user understand, interact with, display, and disseminate the data.</p><p> Quick link to data page: <a href="http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/tags/series" target="_blank">http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/tags/series</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>The Penn World Table</h3><p> The Penn World Table provides purchasing power parity and national income accounts converted to international prices for 189 countries/territories for some or all of the years 1950-2010.</p><p><a href="https://pwt.sas.upenn.edu/php_site/pwt71/pwt71_form.php" target="_blank">Quick link.</a> </p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>