In Michigan
6:17 pm
Fri September 4, 2009

Report says wage disparity growing between white and black workers

LANSING, MI – A report released Friday says there is a long-term trend of lower unemployment among African-Americans in Michigan. But it says there is a growing disparity in the earnings of black workers compared to white workers.

The Michigan League for Human Services examined employment and wage data going back to 1979. It found inflation-adjusted wages have declined overall. But the decline was 6% for white workers, while it was almost 25% for black workers.

Judy Putnam is with the league. She says poverty, poor schools, and the absence of reliable public transportation could help explain the wage gap.

"If you live in an area where there aren't a lot of jobs, there isn't good public transportation, you're just kind of squeezed out of that market completely," she said.

The report also found one out of every five jobs in the state does not pay enough to keep a family of four out of poverty. Putnam says many of those jobs are held by family breadwinners.