Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Having a college degree has generally meant higher wages and better jobs, and the pay-off continues to be significant for white Americans. But there's a penalty for African-American women: they earn less than white women having the same credentials, economic data shows.

Why it matters: As they keep raising tuition, colleges risk tipping the cost-value balance and losing minority groups. "Eventually college wouldn’t be worth it,” Lisa Barrow, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve in Chicago, tells Axios.

Expand chart
Note: Underlying data is inflation-adjusted to 2017 dollars. Data includes hourly wages for all wage and salary workers. Salaries were calculated out to hourly amounts by EPI. Data: Economic Policy Institute; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

How to read the chart: The blue and orange lines show the change in inflation-adjusted hourly salary and wages since 1977. For instance, in the last chart of the second row, Hispanic men with a college degree make 13% more than they did in 1977, while those with only a high school diploma make 5% less.

The big picture: Many minorities already face extreme disadvantages in getting accepted and affording a college education. Even if an African-American or Hispanic adult earns a degree, the financial reward still doesn't match those of whites, according to data from the Economic Policy Institute.

But the alternative is worse. While earning a bachelor's degree may not increase an African-American man's wages as much as a white man's, not going to college is likely to lead to 12% lower pay than high school-educated African-American men earned 40 years ago.

  • Overall, men without a degree are worse off, making 10% less than male high school grads did in 1977 — regardless of race.
  • Meanwhile, women have made overall gains on the gender pay gap. Without a college degree, their wages are 9% higher than 40 years ago.
  • And women are now more likely than to men have a college degree — over 2 million more women enrolled in college last year than men, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

But there are benefits to college beyond higher pay:

  • Young adults with a college degree are less likely to be living with their parents, Pew Research's Richard Fry tells Axios.
  • They are more likely to get married, and to marry someone else with a college degree, giving them a significant advantage in terms of overall household earnings.
  • College degrees also tend to lead to more consistent, full-time work, says Barrow, which is often more important than a high hourly wage.

How we got here: Bill Emmons, assistant vice president at the Federal Reserve in St. Louis, tells Axios that economists generally say the pay-off disparity is natural and can be explained by differing skills, fit and job choice.

  • Sociologists tend to attribute the trends to racial discrimination by employers and universities.
  • But another explanation is the structure of American society. Barriers in the U.S. political, economic and social systems often disadvantage minorities, Emmons said.
There’s this history of discrimination — going all the way back to slavery and colonialism — and exclusions that have persisted. And it stands to reason that these have left enormous imprints not only in institutions but also in individuals' expectations.
— Bill Emmons

What's next: The economic impact of racial inequality has declined, according to economist Roland Fryer, but not fast enough.

  • Opportunity for minorities and whites is converging, but "there’s still a gap that doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon," Emmons said.
  • In terms of solutions, improving the quality of and access to education — from pre-K to post-grad — still seems the best way to combat these issues, he said, but "education is not the silver bullet."

Go deeper

Updated 8 mins ago - Politics & Policy

"Believe your eyes": Prosecutors make closing arguments in Chauvin trial

Steve Schleicher, an attorney for the prosecution in Derek Chauvin's trial, began closing arguments on Monday by describing in detail George Floyd's last moments — crying out for help and surrounded by strangers, as Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds.

Why it matters: The jury's verdict in Chauvin's murder trial, seen by advocates as one of the most crucial civil rights cases in decades, will reverberate across the country and have major implications in the fight for racial justice.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
4 hours ago - Sports

European soccer is at war

Liverpool celebrating its 2019 Champions League victory. Photo: Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Europe's biggest soccer clubs have established The Super League, a new midweek tournament that would compete with — and threaten the very existence of — the Champions League.

Why it matters: This new league, set to start in 2023, "would bring about the most significant restructuring of elite European soccer since the 1950s, and could herald the largest transfer of wealth to a small set of teams in modern sports history," writes NYT's Tariq Panja.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
5 hours ago - Economy & Business

2021's expected earnings blowout begins

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

First-quarter earnings so far have been very strong, outpacing even the rosy expectations from Wall Street and that's a trend that's expected to continue for all of 2021. S&P 500 companies are on pace for one of the best quarters of positive earnings surprises on record, according to FactSet.

Why it matters: The results show that not only has the earnings recession ended for U.S. companies, but firms are performing better than expected and the economy may be justifying all the hype.