A recent study released by public policy group Demos and the NAACP found that retailers pay black and Hispanic full-time salespeople just 75 percent of what they pay white employees in the same positions. When it comes to cashiers, black and Hispanics make about 90 percent of what their white colleagues earn.
Currently, there are 10 million non-Hispanic whites, 2. 3 million Hispanics, 1.9 million African Americans and 800,000 Asian workers in the retail industry. Overall 9 percent of retail workers live below poverty, but according to the study, 17 percent of black retail workers and 13 percent of Latino workers are below the poverty line. Meanwhile, just 7 percent of white and Asian workers take home wages that put them below poverty.
For workers in supervisor and managerial positions, the report finds the pay gap is smaller with African Americans earning $17.31 hourly, Latino’s earning $15.38 an hour and their white counterparts earning $17.43 an hour. However, despite blacks making up 11 percent of the retail workforce, they only account for 6 percent of overall supervisory positions indicating that minority employees are often overlooked for promotions.
“If workers from those racial and ethnic categories continue to be systematically excluded from opportunity, that means that our labor market will be serving less than half the population in a way that’s really meaningful for families who want to pursue the American dream,” co-author of the report, Catherine Ruetschlin, told the Associated Press.
While many states and cities are voting to increase minimum wage, and several companies are making changes in the pay and hours they offer employees, Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, senior director of the NAACP Economic Department and executive director of the NAACP Financial Freedom Center says that with black unemployment still high, the shift has yet to have a major impact on the African American community.
“We find in our communities we don’t have as nearly as tight of a labor market, so that means we can’t vote with our feet by leaving these jobs,” says Muhammad, who co-authored the report.