Wage growth is weak for a tight labor market—and the pace of wage growth is uneven across race and gender

While unemployment rates in this recovery are similar to what we saw in the late 1990s recovery, wages have not grown nearly as fast or as evenly across race and gender as they did during that period. From 1996 to 2000, wage growth was above 9% for white men, white women, and black women, and was 10.3% for black men. But from 2015 to 2019, it was considerably slower for all groups, with growth slowing the most for black men and black women (to 5.0% and 4.7%).

Wage growth gaps are even more dramatic among college graduates. From 2015 to 2019, women college grads saw their wages grow just 3.0%, compared with 7.8% for men, while wages of black college grads fell 0.3% versus 6.6% wage growth for white college grads. In contrast, wage growth for college graduates (like overall wage growth) was strong and even across all groups from 1996 to 2000—with black workers experiencing the strongest growth at 11.5% and other groups not far behind (10.9% for men, 9.8% for women, and 10.6% for white workers).

Economic Policy Institute