People of color have a median income $10,000 less per year than those who are White.

Let's Break It Down

People of color earn far less than the median income.

Median earnings for individuals 16 and older living in the metro are $31,843. On average people who are White earn $33,595, people who are Black earn $21,941, and people who are Hispanic and Latino earn $22,340.

In addition, our wages are not keeping pace with national averages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, our mean hourly wage is 7% lower than the national hourly wage.  Not only is this unaccounted for in a cost-of-living adjustment—our cost of living is 6% lower than the national average— but we are also seeing even wider wage gaps in particular jobs. In nine of the largest ten metro-area professions, wages are significantly lower than the national wages for that profession. The top five professions with the largest wage gaps are listed below.

Top 5 Professions with the Largest Wage Gap
National  Metro
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports & Media $27.39 $21.59
Legal $49.74 $40.12
Architecture & Engineering $39.89 $33.77
Community & Social Services $22.19 $19.32
Education, Training, & Library $25.48 $22.06

Of the professions listed, wages are significantly lower than national median earnings.


Why Does It Matter?

Even with equal educational attainment, people of color earn less that those who are White.

It's a common belief that education is the great equalizer—that you will earn more if you have a higher education. While we generally see income increasing as education level increases, there are disparities between race and ethnicity. A Regional Equity Profile completed by Heartland 2050 found that even when education levels are the same, people of color earn less than those who are White. This is true all the way up to the master's degree level of education, when incomes tend to reach equality.

Wages are important; they provide the foundation needed for any individual or family to thrive. Without equitable wages, individuals will struggle to afford rentfood, utilities, or medical care. Disparities exist in income by both gender and race—disparities that we must be willing to talk about and address.

How Do We Compare?

Workers who are Black earn almost 15% less than the national average.

Median earnings in the metro area are $31,843, which is slightly higher than the national median earnings of $30,815. The metro's earnings for people who are White ($33,595) was slightly higher than the national median earnings for whites ($32,235). Earnings for people who are Hispanic or Latino ($22,340) were also slightly higher than the national earnings ($22,214). However, our local median earnings for people who are Black ($21,941) was much lower than the national earnings ($25,585).

Data Source:  U.S. Census American Community Survey 2014 5-Year Estimates, Tables B20017, B20017A, B20017B, B20017I (geographic area includes the Omaha-Council Bluffs MSA, which includes Douglas, Sarpy, Cass, Washington, Saunders, Pottawattamie, Mills & Harrison Counties), Bureau of Labor Statistics, Forbes Cost of Living Report


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