Black People Are Working Harder than Ever but That Doesn’t Always Translate to Higher Wages

Since 1979, African American workers have increased their work productivity (total annual hours worked) by nearly 13%, with the bottom fifth of black workers (low wage workers) having increased their work productivity by a whopping 22%.

Despite these higher levels of productivity, there is still a significant pay gap between black workers and white workers, along with a dire situation of nearly 60% of black workers in the U.S. being paid less than $15 per hour, according to The National Employment Law Project. The job titles that most of these black workers have are largely:

  • Food preparation workers (fast food industry)
  • Retail salespersons
  • Laborers, freight, stock, and material movers
  • Janitors and cleaners
  • Nursing assistants
  • Personal care aides

The Economic Policy Institute created an interactive map that breaks down, by state, the number of African Americans making less than $10 to $15 per hour. For example, in Mississippi, close to 70% of African American workers make $15 per hour or less.

The Fight for $15

Low wage worker strikes have taken place across the country the last several years in the “Fight for $15” campaign, which is trying to increase the pay for full-time fast food workers to at least $15 per hour, by raising the federal minimum wage (currently $7.25 per hour per late 2017) to at least $15 across the country. The protests believe that prominent fast food companies such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and others, can pay more than the federal or state level minimum wage, but are choosing not to do so due to corporate greed. Seeing as though nearly 60% of African Americans are making less than $15 per hour, a major chunk of these fast food jobs are held by African Americans across the country.

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SOURCE: John Tucker 
Black Enterprise