Cities With the Largest Minority Wage Gap

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In late May, the U.S. commemorated the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death, an event that set off an ongoing wave of protests, demonstrations, and other activism highlighting racial inequities and injustices in modern society. One year since this national reckoning began, much of the country has a greater understanding of how race operates to the benefit of some and exclusion of others.

One example of such an inequity is the wage gap between racial minorities and the white population. The wage gap is both a symptom and cause of racial inequities: the existence of the wage gap is sometimes attributed to factors like racial discrimination or disparate levels of educational quality and attainment, and differences in compensation in turn contributes to other examples of inequity like the racial wealth gap and disparities in homeownership by race.

Income gaps between non-Hispanic whites/Asians and Black/Hispanic workers persist

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the persistence of the minority wage gap over time, with non-Hispanic whites and Asians consistently out-earning Black and Hispanic workers. In 2002, per capita income was $37,234 for non-Hispanic whites, $34,388 for Asians, $22,004 for Blacks, and $19,220 for Hispanics (in inflation-adjusted dollars). In 2019, those figures were $46,281 for whites, $47,525 for Asians, $27,593 for Blacks, and $23,289 for Hispanics. This means that wage gaps have not only remained in place over time but in fact have grown larger as the incomes for non-Hispanic whites and Asians rose faster than those of their Black and Hispanic peers.

Minority wage gaps are more prominent in some regions of the country than in others due to both economic and demographic factors. Some states with low incomes overall, like the Appalachian states of West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Missouri, also have smaller wage gaps because whites are earning less. In contrast, a state like California has some of the highest wages of anywhere in the country; however, many of the highest-earning professions in fields like tech or finance have unusually high concentrations of white workers, whereas lower-income jobs tend to be filled more by Black and Hispanic workers.

California has the largest minority wage gap for full-time workers


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Interestingly, one geographic factor that may not necessarily affect gaps at the state level is the share of the white or non-white population in a state. For instance, states with very low non-white populations pop up on both ends of the wage gap spectrum.

To find the metropolitan areas with the largest wage gaps, researchers at Self used American Community Survey data from the Census Bureau to calculate the percentage difference in median annual earnings between minority and non-minority full-time workers. For the purpose of this analysis, an individual was considered to be a minority if they identified as any racial or ethnic group other than non-Hispanic white. For context, the researchers also reported the minority and non-minority wages, minority population share, and total population for each metro.

Here are the metros with the largest minority wage gap.
Small and midsize metros with the largest minority wage gap

Large Metros With the Largest Minority Wage Gap

 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA
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15. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA

  • Minority wage gap: -33.3%
  • Median earnings for full-time minority workers: $40,000
  • Median earnings for full-time non-minority workers: $60,000
  • Minority population share: 69.3%
  • Total population: 4,650,631

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
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14. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

  • Minority wage gap: -33.3%
  • Median earnings for full-time minority workers: $40,000
  • Median earnings for full-time non-minority workers: $60,000
  • Minority population share: 55.4%
  • Total population: 7,573,136

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Austin-Round Rock, TX
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13. Austin-Round Rock, TX

  • Minority wage gap: -33.3%
  • Median earnings for full-time minority workers: $40,000
  • Median earnings for full-time non-minority workers: $60,000
  • Minority population share: 48.2%
  • Total population: 2,227,083

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA
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12. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA

  • Minority wage gap: -34.4%
  • Median earnings for full-time minority workers: $40,000
  • Median earnings for full-time non-minority workers: $61,000
  • Minority population share: 54.4%
  • Total population: 6,018,744

San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX
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11. San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX

  • Minority wage gap: -34.5%
  • Median earnings for full-time minority workers: $36,000
  • Median earnings for full-time non-minority workers: $55,000
  • Minority population share: 68.2%
  • Total population: 2,550,960

Salt Lake City, UT
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10. Salt Lake City, UT

  • Minority wage gap: -34.5%
  • Median earnings for full-time minority workers: $36,000
  • Median earnings for full-time non-minority workers: $55,000
  • Minority population share: 28.6%
  • Total population: 1,232,696

Raleigh, NC
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9. Raleigh, NC

  • Minority wage gap: -35.5%
  • Median earnings for full-time minority workers: $40,000
  • Median earnings for full-time non-minority workers: $62,000
  • Minority population share: 40.4%
  • Total population: 1,390,785

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
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8. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

  • Minority wage gap: -37.5%
  • Median earnings for full-time minority workers: $55,000
  • Median earnings for full-time non-minority workers: $88,000
  • Minority population share: 56.1%
  • Total population: 6,280,697

San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
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7. San Diego-Carlsbad, CA

  • Minority wage gap: -37.6%
  • Median earnings for full-time minority workers: $43,700
  • Median earnings for full-time non-minority workers: $70,000
  • Minority population share: 55.2%
  • Total population: 3,338,330

New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
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6. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

  • Minority wage gap: -38.0%
  • Median earnings for full-time minority workers: $49,000
  • Median earnings for full-time non-minority workers: $79,000
  • Minority population share: 54.2%
  • Total population: 19,216,182

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
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5. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

  • Minority wage gap: -40.0%
  • Median earnings for full-time minority workers: $60,000
  • Median earnings for full-time non-minority workers: $100,000
  • Minority population share: 61.4%
  • Total population: 4,731,803

Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
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4. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI

  • Minority wage gap: -40.3%
  • Median earnings for full-time minority workers: $40,000
  • Median earnings for full-time non-minority workers: $67,000
  • Minority population share: 47.9%
  • Total population: 9,457,867

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX
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3. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

  • Minority wage gap: -41.2%
  • Median earnings for full-time minority workers: $40,000
  • Median earnings for full-time non-minority workers: $68,000
  • Minority population share: 65.0%
  • Total population: 7,066,140

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Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL
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2. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL

  • Minority wage gap: -41.7%
  • Median earnings for full-time minority workers: $35,000
  • Median earnings for full-time non-minority workers: $60,000
  • Minority population share: 70.4%
  • Total population: 6,166,488

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
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1. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

  • Minority wage gap: -46.7%
  • Median earnings for full-time minority workers: $40,000
  • Median earnings for full-time non-minority workers: $75,000
  • Minority population share: 70.8%
  • Total population: 13,214,799

Detailed Findings & Methodology

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s *2019 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample* (PUMS). To determine the locations with the largest minority wage gap, researchers calculated the percentage difference in median annual earnings between minority and non-minority full-time workers. For the purpose of this analysis, an individual was considered to be a minority if they identified as any racial or ethnic group other than non-Hispanic white. Full-time workers were those aged 16 and over that usually worked 35 hours or more per week and 50 weeks or more per year. Locations were ordered based on the minority wage gap, with larger negative numbers corresponding to a larger gap. In the event of a tie, median earnings and the minority population share was considered.

To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 residents were included. Additionally, metros were grouped into cohorts based on population size: small (100,000–349,999), midsize (350,000–999,999), and large (1,000,000 or more).

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Written on July 1, 2021
Self is a venture-backed startup that helps people build credit and savings. Comments? Questions? Send us a note at hello@self.inc.

Disclaimer: Self is not providing financial advice. The content presented does not reflect the view of the Issuing Banks and is presented for general education and informational purposes only. Please consult with a qualified professional for financial advice.

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