Jul 12, 2018

Income inequality is getting worse in the U.S.

A simple "now hiring" sign in the window of a shop

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The gap in income between the 10% who make the most and those who make the least in the U.S. has continued to widen since 1970, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.

Why it matters: The income disparities are strongly tied to other inequalities — such as education — among racial groups, which often most acutely impact immigrants.

By the numbers:

  • The income gap between African-Americans and whites has closed slightly since 1970, with the median wage for African-Americans being 65% of whites' — up from 59% in 1970.
  • But the gap between Hispanics and whites has widened. Higher-income Hispanics make only 65% of what their white counterparts make, compared to 74% in 1970.
  • Undocumented immigrants contributed to the growth of the Hispanic population,which comes with its own disadvantages. Almost half of Hispanic immigrants had not graduated high school in 2015, according to the study, and only 11% had a college degree, compared to 31% of Americans overall.
  • Within every racial and ethnic group, including whites, the gap increased between those who make the most and those who make the least.
  • While Asian Americans make the most out of any racial or ethnic group, they also have the biggest income disparity. Those with the highest wages make 10 times as much as those who make the least, and that difference has almost doubled between 1970 and 2016.
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