Skip Navigation
small NCES header image
Homeschooling in the United States: 1999


Major Findings

Background

The Present Study

Black-White Differences in Labor Market Outcomes

Black-White Differences in Educational Attainment

Black-White Differences in Educational Achievement

Conclusion



List of Figures

Full Report (PDF)
line Black-White Differences in Labor Market Outcomes

A. Main Findings
Analyses of labor market outcomes between 1979 and 19925 indicate that, for young adults with similar levels of prior educational achievement, the economic performance of blacks relative to whites was substantially greater than for young adults as a whole. For young adults with similar levels of prior educational achievement, black-white gaps in unemployment rates were at least one-half smaller than for young adults as a whole. Among men with similar levels of prior educational achievement, black-white gaps in annual earnings were at least two-fifths smaller than for men as a whole. Black women with levels of prior educational achievement similar to white women earned as much as, or more than, their white counterparts.

B. Unemployment Rates
For the samples of young adults studied, there were no consistent differences between blacks and whites in terms of labor force participation, but black labor force participants were more likely to be unemployed than white labor force participants (figure 1). The absolute black-white gaps in unemployment rates ranged between 4 and 10 percentage points, and were similar in size for men and women. These gaps were at least one-half smaller for young adults with similar levels of prior educational achievement than for young adults as a whole.

C. Annual Earnings
For the samples of young adults studied, blacks generally earned less per year than whites (figure 2).6 Black-white gaps in annual earnings for men ranged from 16 percent in the 1979 sample to about 32 percent in the 19831989 and 19861992 samples. In the 1979 and 1992 samples, black women and white women had similar earnings. In the 1986–1992 sample, the black-white earnings gap for women was about two-thirds smaller than the corresponding gap for men.

For men with similar levels of prior educational achievement, the black-white gap in annual earnings was measured imprecisely in the 1979 sample, such that it was distinguishable neither from zero, nor from the gap for men as a whole. In the 19831989, 19861992, and 1992 samples, the black-white earnings gap for men with similar educational achievement was over two-fifths smaller than for men as a whole.

For women with similar levels of prior educational achievement, blacks earned 12 percent more per year than whites in the 1979 sample, 22 percent more per year than whites in the 1992 sample, and about the same as whites in the 19831989 and 19861992 samples.

D. Additional Sources of Disparities in Labor Market Outcomes
Since differences in educational achievement can predict only a portion of black-white differences in employment and men’s earnings, other factors must contribute to racial disparities in these outcomes. Possible reasons for the remainder of these gaps include a relative shortage of jobs in areas where blacks live, fewer job networks for blacks, and the existence of labor market discrimination against blacks. Unmeasured skill differences between labor force participants of different racial backgrounds may also contribute to the remaining black-white disparities in employment and men’s earnings.

5. The analyses of labor market outcomes focused on four samples of young adults: (1) young adults who were high school seniors in 1972 and who were observed 7 years later through the National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972 ("the 1979 sample"); (2) young adults who were high school seniors between 1976 and 1982 and who were observed 7 years later through the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth ("the 1983–1989 sample"); (3) young adults who were high school sophomores between 1974 and 1980 and who were observed 12 years later through the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth ("the 1986–1992 sample"); and (4) young adults who were high school sophomores in 1980 and who were observed 12 years later through the High School and Beyond Survey ("the 1992 sample"). High school sophomores and seniors were generally identified as of the spring of each year. Educational achievement was measured in 1972 for the 1979 samples and in 1980 for the other samples.
6.The pattern of black-white gaps in hourly wages—reported in every sample except the 1992 High School and Beyond sample—was generally similar to the pattern of gaps in annual earnings.

<< back    >> next

Would you like to help us improve our products and website by taking a short survey?

YES, I would like to take the survey

or

No Thanks

The survey consists of a few short questions and takes less than one minute to complete.
National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education