Report: Workers Make Mixed Gains: Women’s Wages Up, Black Men’s Lag

Toledo Blade - September 2, 2002

The Toledo Blade

As American workers celebrate Labor Day, a new report gives mixed grades to
the progress made by working families in recent years.

The good news is that the wages of female workers, although still lagging behind
those of men, are increasing steadily. Also positive are the gains made by female
and minority union members.

But the report released yesterday by Policy Matters Ohio found that American
workers are spending more hours on the job and black men are losing pace in
relation to white men when it comes to wages.

“I do think the continued wage gaps are a problem … especially for those of us
who want equality,” said Amy Hanauer, executive director of the nonprofit
research institute based in Cleveland.

The report found that African-American workers overall earned 83 percent of what
white workers earned in 2001, with black men earning only 80 percent of what
white men earned last year. White workers had a rebound in wages between
1989 and 2001, but black wages continued to fall to $10.91 an hour, a 13 percent
decline from the 1979 level of $12.49 in inflation-adjusted dollars, the study found.

Work time also has incresed. Two-parent families collectively worked an average
of 3,736 hours a year in 1998 to 2000, up percent from 3,157 hours in 1979 to
1981, the report states. That translates into one parent working a full-time job and
another working more than four days a week.

The increase is because more families decided extra work hours were needed to
maintain a standard of living not possible with one wage-earner, according to the

It found women’s wages at $11.17 an hour, 10 percent above the 1979 level of
$10.13 an hour. Men s wages increased slightly in the past decade to $14.71 an
hour, but remain 12 percent below the 1979 level of $16.66 an hour. The bad
news is that female worker wages last year were 76 percent of male worker

African-American and female workers in unions experienced dramatic gains in the
period the report covered, with wages for women up 23 percent and for blacks up
40 percent.

Other findings:

  • The typical Ohio worker earned $12.81 an hour in 2001, up from $12.40 in 

1989 but down from $13.73 in 1979, based on inflation-adjusted dollars

  • Household incomes in Ohio rose 20 percent to $43,900, in 2000 dollars, which 

exceeds the national average

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