Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 1997. Employment and Work-related Risk Factor 3. Earnings of Low-skilled Workers

10/01/1997

The economic condition of the low-skill labor market is key to the ability of young adult men and women to support families without receiving means-tested assistance. This measure tracks trends in the earnings of low-skilled workers.

Figure WORK 3. Mean Weekly Wages of Men Working Full-Time, Full-Year with no more than a High School Education, 1995 Dollars

Figure WORK3. Mean Weekly Wages of Men Working Full-Time, Full-Year with no more than a High School Education, 1995 Dollars

  • Men's mean weekly wages for full-time work have decreased in real terms over the past quarter of a century. In 1970 the mean weekly wage for a full-time working man was $593 (in 1995 dollars), the comparable wage in 1994 was $523, representing a decrease of 12 percent.
  • A large gap exists between the mean weekly wages for white and black men, although it has been narrowing over time. In 1970 the mean weekly wage for white men working full-time was the equivalent of $615 in 1995 dollars, $183 higher than the average for blacks, $432. In 1994 the difference was $93, with white men receiving a mean wage of $539 and black men $446. In 1994 full-time working black men received 82 percent of the weekly wages of white men; in 1970 they received only 70 percent of the wages. The narrowing of this gap is predominantly a result of the declining value of white men's mean wages.

Table WORK 3. Mean Weekly Wages of Men Working Full-Time, Full-Year with no more than a High School Education, 1995 Dollars

  1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1994
All Men $593 $580 $584 $555 $531 $523
Black Men $432 $460 $448 $440 $442 $446
White Men $615 $597 $603 $572 $545 $539

Note: Full-time, full-year workers work at least 48 weeks per year and 35 hours per week. These data have been weighted to create an average for all men with no more than a high school diploma using population numbers from U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-20. The population weights were calculated for 1970, 1980, and 1990 and the other year weights were calculated using linear extrapolation.

Source: Blank, R., It Takes a Nation,1997.