The Painful Reality of How Much Minority Retail Workers Get Paid


A new report reveals that black and Latino retail workers face severely disadvantageous pay and are promoted much less than their white counterparts.

On average, white retail workers earn over $15 an hour, while black and Latino retail workers earn less than $11.75, according to an analysis of government data conducted by the NAACP and progressive think tank Demos.

Fig 10 Race and Retail

Calculated out, black and Latino full-time retail sales workers make only around 75% of what their white peers make, amounting to a difference of about $7,500 in yearly earnings on average.

Fig. 1 Race and Retail_0

The study also found a sizable disparity between the management position composition between the groups. African Americans make up 11% of the retail workforce — the sector is the second largest employer of African Americans — but they only account for 6% of its managers; Latinos make up 16% of the retail workforce, but only 8% of its management positions. In contrast, whites make up only 80% of the retail workforce, but compose 88% of its management positions.

Fig. 8 Race and Retail

The paper says that black and Latino sales workers are overrepresented in cashier positions, the lowest-paid position in retail. Even at the bottom rung of the retail food chain, however, African Americans and Latinos are still at a disadvantage: black and Latino cashiers make about 10% less — or $1,850 a year — than their white peers.

In addition to the widespread pay and promotion differences, the study found that black and Latino retail workers are more likely to be given part-time shifts despite wanting full-time. One in five black retail workers are involuntarily given part-time schedules by employers, as compared to less than one in seven white retail workers.

Fig. 12 Race and Retail

All of these differences contribute to the fact that, according to the report, 17% of black and 13% of Latino retail workers live below the poverty line, compared to only 9% of white retail workers.

Fig. 7 Race and Retail_0

To help level out the racial inequality in the retail workplace, the report advises raising wages and ending unfair shift policies:

“Raising wages for the lowest-paid workers to $15 per hour would bring the median full-time Black retail sales worker within 97 percent of the current hourly wage of the median full-time White sales worker, while lifting millions of workers and their family members out of poverty or near-poverty. At the same time, ending the destabilizing practices of just-in-time scheduling policies like on-call shifts and unpredictable hours would provide workers and their families with renewed financial security and control.”

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