ALTHOUGH the Clinton administration sees poor education...

Salmagundi

July 27, 1994

ALTHOUGH the Clinton administration sees poor education and limited job skills as major contributors to unemployment, the Labor Department's own statistics show that more education doesn't always yield higher salaries.

In 1983, for example, U.S. workers with no high school diploma had an average unemployment rate of 10.7 percent, while the jobless rate for college graduates that year was only 2.9 percent.

Yet a breakdown of workers' earnings by educational attainment shows that the relationship between learning and earning does not necessarily follow across race and gender lines. For example, white males with four-year college degrees earn an average of $10,000 more than black males, and nearly $15,000 more than white women with the same education.

In many cases, womens' wages continue to lag behind those of men even when women are better educated and perform tasks similar to or more complex than those performed by men. For example, white males with only high school diplomas earn more on average than black and white women with two-year associate degrees.

These disparities hold even for the professions: Female lawyers make only 78 percent of what their male counterparts earn; female doctors make only 72.2 percent as much; and female managers earn 66 percent as much.

Moreover, the majority of women are still segregated in traditionally underpaid "female" jobs, such as sales, service, administrative support or clerical occupations. Women make up two-thirds of the low-wage work force.

Despite the enactment of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits disparities for men and women performing substantially equal work, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits wage discrimination on the basis of sex or race, full pay equity for women and people of color is still a distant goal.

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