- The Washington Times - Monday, March 28, 2005

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Black and Asian women with bachelor’s degrees earn more money than similarly educated white women, and white men with four-year degrees still make more money than anyone else.

A white woman with a bachelor’s degree typically earned nearly $37,800 in 2003, compared with nearly $43,700 for a college-educated Asian woman and about $41,100 for a college-educated black woman, according to data being released today by the Census Bureau. Hispanic women took home slightly less at about $37,600 a year.

The bureau did not say why the differences exist. Economists and sociologists suggest some possible factors: the tendency of minority women, especially blacks, to more often hold more than one job or work more than 40 hours a week and the tendency of black professional women who take time off to have children to return to the work force sooner than others.

Employers in some fields might give extra financial incentives to young black women, who graduate from college at higher rates than young black men, said Roderick Harrison, a researcher at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank that studies minority issues.

“Given the relative scarcity, if you are a woman in the sciences — if you are a black woman — you would be a rare commodity,” Mr. Harrison said.

Because study in the area is limited, it is difficult to pinpoint specific reasons, said Barbara Gault, research director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in Washington.

“It could be the fields that educated black women are choosing,” she said. “It also could be related to the important role that black women play in the total family income in African-American families.”

Notions that black women are struggling financially as much as other groups are should not be dismissed, she added.

For instance, nearly 39 percent of families headed by a single black woman were in poverty, compared with 21 percent of comparable white women, according to U.S. Census estimates released last year.

A white man with a college diploma earns far more than any similarly educated man or woman — in excess of $66,000 a year, according to the Census Bureau. Among men with bachelor’s degrees, Asians earned more than $52,000 a year, Hispanics earned more than $49,000 and blacks earned more than $45,000.

Workplace discrimination and the continuing difficulties of minorities to reach higher-paying management positions could help explain the disparities among men, experts say.

Demographics might offer an explanation. There are millions more college-educated white men in better-paying jobs than there are black, Hispanic or Asian men.

Minorities also suffered more financially as a result of the 2001 recession and its aftermath, as has been the case with past economic downturns, said Jared Bernstein, chief economist with the Economic Policy Institute.

The figures come from the Census Bureau’s annual look at educational achievement in the United States, culled from a survey in March 2004. Questions about income were asked regarding the previous calendar year.

Regardless of race or sex, a college graduate on average earned more than $51,000, compared with $28,000 for someone with only a high school diploma or an equivalent degree. College-educated men typically made about $63,000, compared with $33,000 for men with just a high school education.

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