Widening Wage Gap Separates White and Minority Workers

Christina Morillo /​Pexels Widening Wage Gap Separates White and Minority Workers
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The gap between white and minority workers grew by a whopping 62 percent from 2007 to 2017 in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, according to a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

The report’s authors said the findings, based on data from the Brookings Institution’s Metro Monitor Report for 2019, point to weaknesses in the regional economy that other more positive indicators have failed to show in the decade since the great recession.

Even in a time of economic recovery, we’re actually seeing disparities grow between minority and white workers, not close,” said Emily Garr Pacetti, vice president and community affairs officer with the Cleveland Fed and co-​author of the report. “Despite more minority workers entering the workforce, we’re seeing a bigger gap in earnings, which is concerning.”

Of the 22 U.S. metro areas that saw their earnings gap widen during the period, Pittsburgh experienced the largest increase, with the pay gap rising from $8,635 to $13,984. Other Pittsburgh Today benchmark where the wage gap widened include St. Louis, where it grew by 44 percent; Philadelphia, where the gap widened by 15 percent; and Seattle, which saw the gap grow by 10 percent.

While many other metro areas struggle with similar issues, the report suggests that with a shrinking and aging population it is important for the Pittsburgh region that its workforce has the training and access necessary to fill jobs in the sectors that have driven the region’s steady, albeit mild, economic growth over the last decade, such as healthcare and construction.

There needs to be more concerted effort to include minority workers in economic development activities to connect them to jobs and sectors that are growing in the economy,” said Layisha Bailey, community development analyst with the Cleveland Fed.

Bill O'Toole

Bill O’Toole is a staff writer with Pittsburgh Quarterly. His beats include public safety, transportation, government and housing. Before returning to his native Pittsburgh, he spent several years reporting in Myanmar.

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