Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Minorities Facing Tougher Economic Times Than Many

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Minorities Facing Tougher Economic Times Than Many

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) -- Black and Hispanic Americans are having a tougher time than many U.S. workers collecting the dividends of a record economic boom that has created more than 18 million new jobs since 1991.

The median income for all full-time workers aged 25 and older was $572 a week in 1998, 22.5 percent higher than $467 in 1991, Labor Department figures showed Friday. Whites earned a median $589 a week last year, 29.2 percent more than blacks' median weekly income of $456 and 48.0 percent above Hispanics' wage of $398.

While incomes for all groups are higher than they were in 1991, there hasn't been much change in the differential. Seven years earlier the gap was 31 percent for blacks and 42 percent for Hispanics. While racial discrimination in the workplace hasn't vanished, differences in skills and education probably play a larger role in the wage disparities, say analysts who study wage patterns. "To close the wage gap, you have to close the skills gap," said Tom Dilworth, research director of the Employment Policies Institute in Washington. And that will take on increased importance this year if the economy slows as economists expect. A major reason for the widening of the gap between the richest and poorest workers is the rapid development of technology in the workplace, which separates those who are trained to use it from those who don't, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told a congressional panel last week. "There's been a very appreciable change in the income distribution which appears to be highly correlated with technical skills," he said. Many companies recognize the need to train their workers to keep up with changing technology. Automaker General Motors, for instance, offers so many employee classes it has a separate training arm called General Motors University, with its own course catalog and 14 deans overseeing different subject areas. …

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