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Study Shows Large Gender and Racial Disparities in Wage Growth

Rockville, Md.  –  A new report shows gender and racial disparities in wage growth over 10 years among workers who start out with similar pay in the same mid-level occupations. Mid-level occupations require more than a high school diploma but not a college degree. The report was part of a larger study for the US Department of Labor, the Career Trajectories and Occupational Transitions (CTOT) Study, which examines patterns of career advancement for workers in mid-level occupations. The report, which compared wage growth for workers with different gender and racial identities, found that:

  • Black women and Hispanic women experience the least wage growth
  • Wage growth disparities are pervasive across occupational fields
  • Women experience less wage growth than men despite being more likely to obtain additional postsecondary degrees over the course of their careers
  • The disparities cannot be explained by differences in other career-related outcomes, such as gaps in time spent not working or advancement to higher-level occupations.

The workers in the CTOT study are typical of those eligible for career pathways projects, which combine employment and training to prepare participants to move up the career ladder. The training programs are not likely to be able to fully address the range of factors (including systemic factors) behind wage trajectories associated with gender and race/ethnicity. But the study suggests several possible strategies for practitioners to promote wage advancement for participants. And the findings have implications for those programs, including that training programs might consider:

  • Working with employers to identify and raise awareness about strategies to address barriers to career advancement for women and workers of color
  • Equipping program participants with resources to navigate barriers and support their occupational advancement

The CTOT study was conducted as part of the Descriptive and Analytical Career Pathways Project.

Read the full report.

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