Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2001 . Employment and Work-related Risk Factor 3. Earnings of Low-skilled Workers

03/01/2001

Figure WORK 3. Mean Weekly Wages of Men Working Full-Time, Full-Year with No More than a High School Education, by Race (1999 Dollars): Selected Years

Figure WORK 3. Mean Weekly Wages of Men Working Full-Time, Full-Year with No More than a High School Education, by Race (1999 Dollars): Selected Years

Source:  ASPE tabulations of March CPS data.


  • Mean weekly wages for full-time work by men with no more than a high school diploma have decreased in real terms for much of the past quarter century, with some recovery in the late 1990s.  In 1970, the mean weekly wage for low-skilled men working full-time was $660 (in 1999 dollars); the comparable wage in 1995 was $597, a decrease of 10 percent.

  • In recent years, this pattern has changed, and weekly wages for low-skilled men have risen, even after taking inflation into account.  The mean weekly wage for low-skilled full-time workers was $619 in 1999 – a rise above the 1995 level, but still not as high as wages for this group in 1970 (in 1999 dollars).

  • The gap between mean weekly wages for white and black men with low education levels has narrowed over time, especially over the last five years.  In 1970, the mean weekly wage for low-skilled black men working full-time was $481 (in 1999 dollars), or 70 percent of the $683 average for white men.  However, full-time working black men with no more than a high school education received 80 percent of the mean weekly wages of white men in 1995 ($493 compared to $614) and 88 percent of the mean weekly wages of white men in 1999 ($554 compared to $633).

Table WORK 3: Mean Weekly Wages of Men Working Full-Time, Full-Year with No More than a High-School Education, by Race (1999 Dollars): Selected Years

  1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
All Men $660 $672 $670 $647 $605 $597 $608 $619 $608 $619
White Men $683 $689 $689 $667 $622 $614 $625 $636 $623 $633
Black Men $481 $529 $521 $507 $499 $493 $512 $512 $519 $554

Note: Full-time, full-year workers work at least 48 weeks per year and 35 hours per week.  White and black include those of Hispanic origin for all years.

Source: ASPE tabulations of March CPS data.

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