The Enormous Black-White Wage Gap
The Enormous Black-White Wage Gap
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Good morning. U.S. coronavirus cases set a daily record. Policing bills hit a wall in Congress. And Democrats lead in several Senate races. Let’s start with a look at the black-white wage gap.
One remarkable sign of the racial inequities plaguing the United States: The wage gap between black and white men is as large today as it was in 1950.
If you look at the government’s official wage statistics, you’ll see a somewhat different story. Those number show that the wage gap is smaller than in the mid-20th century.
But the official statistics are misleading. They exclude people who are not working — and there has been a sharp rise since the 1980s in the number of black men who don’t work.
Some have dropped out of the labor force, no longer looking for work after having failed to find decent-paying blue-collar jobs (a trend that has also hurt men of other races, though not as badly). Others are incarcerated. Over all, even before the recent economic downturn, about 30 percent of black men between the ages of 25 and 54 were not working, much more than in previous decades.
As a result, the official statistics on wages and many other economic subjects ignore a growing segment of the black population. They cover only those men fortunate enough to be working. “It’s a weird hole,” Kerwin Kofi Charles, the dean of the Yale School of Management, told me.
When you take a comprehensive look at black and white men — as Charles and another economist, Patrick Bayer of Duke University, have done — you see that the black-white male wage gap is as large today as it was when Harry Truman was president. (I go into more detail, including charts, in this article.)
From The Magazine: “Racial income disparities today look no different than they did the decade before King’s March on Washington,” Nikole Hannah-Jones writes. “More critical, the racial wealth gap is about the same as it was in the 1950s as well. The typical black household today is poorer than 80 percent of white households.”
The central reason is centuries of government policies that have denied opportunities to black Americans — from slavery to the Homestead Act to Jim Crow laws to federally mandated segregation that affects housing prices today. The only solution, Hannah-Jones argues, is restitution: A federal program to repay black Americans for the wealth that the government has taken from them.
The U.S. recorded 36,880 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the highest single-day total so far. While some of that reflects an increase in testing, the virus really is spreading more rapidly than it was several weeks ago. Across much of Europe and Asia, by contrast, the situation is less dire.
The rise of U.S. cases is also leading to more serious illness. In Texas, about 4,000 people with the virus are hospitalized, more than double the number at the beginning of June. Houston’s intensive-care units are now filled to 97 percent of capacity, the mayor said.
In other virus developments:
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will require visitors from several states with high positive test rates to quarantine for two weeks. The list includes Florida, which had imposed the same rule on visiting New Yorkers three months ago.
Investors alarmed by the surging cases sent the S&P 500 falling 2.6 percent on Wednesday. The drop was particularly tough on industries vulnerable to a prolonged pandemic, such as cruise lines and airlines.
Some countries in Asia and Europe are taking novel approaches to managing new waves of infections. In South Korea, the government has advised citizens to carry two types of masks — a surgical mask for normal use, and a heavy-duty mask for crowded situations.
2. Hopes dim for policing changes
Senate Democrats blocked a Republican police overhaul bill that they said was not an adequate response to systemic racism. The House, which Democrats control, is set to pass its own legislation today, but Senate Republican leaders have said they will not take up the bill.
Senator Kamala Harris said that Democrats would “not take crumbs on the table when there is a hunger that America has for real solutions to a very real problem.” Senator Tim Scott, a Republican, said Democrats had “decided to punt this ball until the election.”
3. Democrats are ahead in crucial Senate races
The Republicans’ Senate majority appears to be in danger, according to New York Times/Siena College polls of battleground states. To retake Senate control, Democrats would need to win five of the 11 races that currently appear competitive (as well as the vice presidency, which breaks Senate ties). The Times polled three of those races — in Arizona, Michigan and North Carolina — and the Democratic candidate is leading all, although by only three percentage points in North Carolina.
It won’t be easy for Democrats, because nine of the 11 races are in states that President Trump won in 2016. But his unpopularity has made it imaginable, as Jonathan Martin and Matt Stevens explain. In a separate story, Nate Cohn looks at Trump’s deficit in six swing states, including Florida.
Here’s what else is happening
The three white men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was chased while jogging in Georgia, were indicted on murder charges.
A federal appeals court panel ordered an end to the case against Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, delivering a major victory to the Justice Department.
Some people are turning to conspiracy theories to explain the flood of fireworks booming over American cities. But experts say the simplest answer is probably the right one: People are bored, and fireworks are fun.
Live cockroaches, a funeral wreath and pornographic videos: The Wall Street Journal goes behind the scenes on eBay’s harassment campaign against two critics.
Lives Lived: The Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev famously warned the West, “We will bury you!” But his son Sergei Khrushchev liked the West just fine. In fact, he moved to the United States and became a senior fellow at Brown University. “I like this country,” he once said. He has died at 84.
BACK STORY: A challenging commitment
In Powderhorn Park, a diverse Minneapolis neighborhood just blocks from where George Floyd was killed last month, many white, liberal residents are rethinking their relationship with law enforcement.
When a multiracial group of homeless people displaced by the unrest over Floyd’s death set up a tent camp in the neighborhood park, residents pledged not to involve the police. They engaged community activists, delivered meals and persuaded officials to back off an eviction notice.
But as our colleague Caitlin Dickerson reports, the limited alternatives to traditional policing have created dilemmas about where to draw the line.
One Powderhorn resident debated calling 911 after he found an unconscious man wearing a hospital bracelet. Another regretted doing so after two teenagers held him up at gunpoint. And some residents of color doubt that their white neighbors’ vows to avoid involving the police will last.
“People all over the country have been saying recently they want to change their relationship with the police,” Caitlin told us. “What’s unique about Powderhorn is that its new ideals are already being ‘tested.’ I think that’s why the story is resonating with readers, because they know they will inevitably be ‘tested’ too. I’m hearing from people today that the story is making them think about how they might react in a similar situation.”
PLAY, WATCH, EAT, PIZZA
Make perfect pizza at home
Would you like to make a deep-dish pie, with crisp edges and without mushy dough? This recipe, developed by King Arthur Flour’s test-kitchen team, achieves that. The secret? Baking it in a cast-iron pan.
Some other tricks: The tomato sauce is “smudged on top of mozzarella like sunblock,” Tejal Rao writes, which turns the cheese into a barrier against sogginess. And sprinkling more cheese to the edge of the pan adds crunch.
For the ‘Hamilton’ superfans
Good news if you haven’t been able to see “Hamilton” (or just want to rewatch it, over and over): The film version begins streaming on Disney Plus on July 3.
The movie — which is not really a movie but a live-capture of the stage production — was shot over three days in June 2016. It stars much of the original cast of the award-winning Broadway show. This is how the film came together.
Here’s a list of 16 books to watch for in July. In “Afterland,” a mother must disguise her son in a world where most of the men have been wiped out. The novel “Blacktop Wasteland,” a fast-paced noir set in Virginia, follows a mechanic who agrees to one last heist. Nonfiction titles include a memoir by the longtime “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek.
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Channel for political junkies (5 letters).
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David
P.S. Ashley Southall has been named the new police bureau chief on The Times’s Metro desk. Ashley, an Alabama native, has covered the N.Y.P.D. for The Times since 2016.
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Ian Prasad Philbrick and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.