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And that was 2010. The economic downturn had a disproportionate impact on the wages of blacks, and in the intervening years inflation-adjusted weekly wages have continued to decline. From 2009 to 2014, the weekly wages for full-time Black workers have fallen 1.19 percent (versus 3.8 percent for white workers), and 9.42 percent for part-time workers (versus .22 percent for white workers.)

Tom: That is not good news. Will the expected wage growth help Black communities?

Mellody: i think we can agree that any wage growth is a good thing. And states and municipalities – along with companies – are feeling the pressure to raise wages to address some of these problems of inequality. We have seen some movement on this front already – McDonald’s has raised wages, as has Wal-mart. A number of states have as well. However, it will certainly take significant growth to close the wage gaps that we have seen between races. And, in terms of our communities, wages are also critical, since consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the economy. That will take more than a growing economy.

Tom: There is a lot more work ahead of us, but it looks like some good news is on the way.  

Mellody: Hopefully we are about to turn the corner, Tom. Have a good week.

Tom: You too, Mellody!

Mellody is President of Ariel investments, a Chicago-based money management firm that serves individual investors and retirement plans through its no-load mutual funds and separate accounts.  Additionally, she is a regular financial contributor and analyst for CBS News.


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Money Mondays: Will Black Workers Benefit From Wage Growth?  was originally published on

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