In almost every metropolitan area, whites with a bachelor’s degree earn more than people of color with a bachelor’s degree. In only a handful of metros—including Worcester, Massachusetts; Madison, Wisconsin; and Manchester, New Hampshire—where data is often missing for black and Latino workers, do people of color have higher median hourly wages than whites. Asian workers in some of those metros made more than white workers, where their average hourly wage was more than $30. That’s more than double the national average for people of color.
This wage gap between people of color and white workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher was most pronounced in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Several companies, including General Electric and Xerox Corporation, are headquartered in the working-class area. While people of color with a bachelor’s degree make on average $30.70 an hour, which is well above the national average of $16 for people of color across all educational levels, white workers have a median hourly income of $40.19.
Asian workers in Bridgeport lifted the average for people of color in that area, earning $37.39 an hour. Black and Latino workers, meanwhile, earned considerably less, making $26.07 and $27.82 per hour, respectively.
A National Trend
Elsewhere in the country, the pay gap between working whites and people of color with a bachelor’s degree or higher is similarly wide: $8 in Huntsville, Alabama; Naples, Florida; and Houston, Texas. The gap is about $7 in Anchorage, Alaska; Los Angeles; Salt Lake City; Port St. Lucie, Florida; Bakersfield, California; and Provo, Utah.
Even in metropolitan areas where people of color with a bachelor’s degree earn the highest wages, white workers earn more money per hour. In those tech and government hubs, people of color earn $39.67 in San Jose, California; $33.72 in Trenton, New Jersey; $32.15 in San Francisco; $31.84 in Washington; and $31.18 in Oxnard, California. The wage gap is still pronounced among whites with the same educational attainment in those places because, on average, they earn around $38.
In recent decades, wage gaps have grown the most for college graduates, says Valerie Wilson, the director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy. There’s greater pay equality among lower earners with less education because the minimum wage provides a floor. For people of color with a higher education, Wilson says, “There is discrimination in the labor market, not only in terms of hiring but definitely in pay.”
Even with the minimum-wage floor, the wage gaps among workers with just high school degrees are large in some metropolitan areas, including San Jose; Baton Rouge; New York; Santa Rosa, California; and Oxnard, where white workers make around $7 more than people of color. The gap is largest in Anchorage, at $8.21.