The Racial Wage Gap in Retail Is Atrocious

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Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

According to a new report, minorities who work in retail earn less and are less likely to be promoted than their white counterparts. The study, released yesterday by the NAACP and public-policy group Demos, found that retailers pay black and Latino full-time salespeople about 75 percent of what they pay white workers in the same positions. On average, black salespeople are paid $11.54 an hour, while white salespeople average $15.38 an hour.

Not only are minority retail workers paid the least, the report found, but they are also given the fewest opportunities for advancement. While black workers make up 11 percent of the national retail workforce, only 6 percent of supervisory positions are held by black employees.

As a result, black and Latino retail workers are also closer to (or further beneath) the poverty line than white workers with similar jobs. Overall, 9 percent of the retail workforce lives below the official poverty line — but 17 percent of the black retail force and 13 percent of Latino workers fall below the poverty line, while only 7 percent of white workers do. The study’s authors believe that raising the federal minimum wage (currently $7.25 an hour) could go a long way towards reducing the racial wage gap — while also improving customer service and sales revenue, and decreasing the cost of employee turnover.