If you are an Asian-American man: Congratulations. You make more, on average, than any member of any other race-gender pairing, according to data released last month from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And, the data shows, you always have.
Our colleague Derek Thompson at The Atlantic noted the BLS report on Wednesday, pulling out some of the top-level data around what it says about how work hours and wages vary by racial identification and gender. For those who've been paying attention, the results won't be surprising. "The numbers reveal a workforce stratified, if not calcified, by race," Thompson writes, "with whites seeing higher wages and lower unemployment, while blacks and Hispanics constantly stuck behind them."
That word "constantly" seemed significant to us. So we took the data on median weekly wages, broken out by race and gender, and plotted it over time. But with a twist: we also converted the data into 2012 dollars, using a formula from Oregon State.
So this is how weekly wages have changed by gender and racial group since 1979.
The thicker lines are data for men; the colors differentiate racial groups. As Thompson notes, wages for Latino and black men have always trailed those of white men. Wages for black men also trail wages for white women, and they have with only a brief interruption since 1991. At the top, wages for Asian men, well above other groups, consistently.
But the more remarkable findings may be in how wages have changed by decade. The graph below shows how wages changed from 1982 to 1992, from 1992 to 2002, from 2002 to 2012, and from 1979 to 2012. (Data for Asian men and women is excluded because it only goes back to 2000.)
Men of every racial group have seen median wages decline since 1979 in 2012 dollars. Among Latino men, the drop is massive, as you can see in the dark purple line in the first graph.
If you're curious, we've made a tool that shows you how your race and gender compare to other groups, showing the difference in median weekly wages. The point, in short: this is not what equality looks like.
Photo: An August job fair in New York. (AP)
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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