The latest Census Bureau update shows that Black Americans are slightly worse off than those of Hispanic origin. However, the situation is not all that clear cut, both minorities earn substantially less than mainstream Whites and the precipitating causes are complex enough to defy explanation by a roomful of sociologists and economists.
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The slight disparity between the two races is shown by several measures of central tendency and one of dispersion:
- Based on the information at hand, Hispanic families typically make 12% more (mean family income: $45,014.13) than Black families do ($40,669.15).
- Graphing the distribution confirms the fact of a slight advantage for Hispanics. One readily sees that there are more of them at every income range above $24,999.
- On the other hand, arithmetic means are sensitive to extreme values and there may be more socio-economic parity here than is evident at first glance. For example, the median values reveal that the advantage of Hispanics (median annual income: $36,140.35) is just 5% over Blacks ($34,404.76). That the median cut-off for 50% of both minorities is thousands of dollars below their corresponding means shows that the income distributions are skewed toward the lower end of the earnings scale.
- At the same time, the standard deviations for Hispanics are wider ($5,625) than for Blacks ($5,298). On the face of it, Hispanic incomes are more divergent, which is not very meaningful since two-thirds cluster around the income ranges $15,000 to $75,000.
- To put this all in context, one notes that mean annual income for mainstream White families (excluding white-complexioned Hispanics, a distinction that the U.S. Census Bureau makes for some reason) is around 60% higher than for the two minorities (U.S. Census Bureau, 2007, p. 1). Behind this disparity is a tapestry of social realities, including which minority clusters in urban ghettoes, the inclination for higher education, the attendant employment opportunities this opens up, and many more.
U.S. Census Bureau (2007) Annual social and economic supplement. Current Population Survey. Web.