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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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