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To Reduce Racial Inequality, Raise the Minimum Wage

Diversity and inclusion programs for elites are tokens. A large wage increase that would most benefit the Black working class is far better.

Economists who study gains in racial equality during that era have mostly credited improved educational outcomes for Black students (in terms of both number of years of school and quality of education) and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned explicit job discrimination. But it’s clear now that the 1966 minimum wage reform also made a significant contribution.

When the March on Washington took place in 1963, Black workers in the United States earned on average 59 cents for every dollar earned by the average white worker. Today, Black workers in the United States earn on average 78 cents for every dollar earned by average white workers — a notable improvement. But this ratio has remained essentially unchanged since about 1980.

In one respect, this stagnation is a gloomy affirmation of Black families’ continued frustration with…

Ellora Derenoncourt, Claire Montialoux

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