Black Workers’ Wages Are Finally Rising

Their pay is increasing after a decade of stagnation. One man’s story shows the hope — and limitations — with that shift.

Comments: 147

  1. It is hard to predict. But as the Democrats continue to veer hard left, Black Americans may start to trickle back to Republicans. The church as an institution moderates the views of many Black Americans. So it could take just a few influential African Americans like Kanye to persuade others that it is okay to think independently, leave the all talk, no action Democrats behind, and come home to the party of Lincoln.

  2. @ehillesum Until the Tea Party came along I voted mainly, although not exclusively, Republican for 20 years (I was and am a registered Democrat). The Tea Party changed that and recent behavior by the Republican party--putting themselves and party loyalty above the country--has pushed me firmly back to the Democrats camp. I've never been a social-issues conservative; I am an atheist. But for a long time in my mid-adult life, I thought the Republicans had better ideas. Not anymore. Although I am no fan of Bernie or Elizabeth Warren, I'd vote for either of them before any Trump supporter, Tea Party supporter, or any other current day Republican.

  3. @ehillesum "the Party of Lincoln" - what a laugh as the GOP leads the way nationwide with voter suppression laws, voter file purges and tactics that target minorities and blacks. Tax cuts for the rich are the GOP's ONLY idea; the rest is window dressing. And endless tax cuts are completely destructive to civilization. What blacks, whites and purples really need is affordable healthcare and education, living wages, better infrastructure, a fair tax code, voting rights, and a protected environment, not Trickle-Down fraudonomics.

  4. @ehillesum I'll follow your generalization with one of my own, I don't know any black people who think of Kanye as influential or can even relate to Black people's experience anymore. Further policies of both parties seem to do little for the poor, which are disproportionately black people. The Black people who vote Republican are usually rich--e.g. Kanye. $38000, while a significant increase for Mr Mitchell, still does not make "The American Dream" within reach. And what about others not so fortunate?

  5. Great to hear. Let me tell you that my wages as a Caucasian, Male 64 years old has been steadily-declining since the great-recession. I'm in the Tech/Finance field and been caught-up working for companies which went through some tough-times. Studies have also shown that persons with disabilities (like my epilepsy) and older workers experience discrimination. The point of my comment is that as a society we are too focused on race. A multitude of factors play into employment, income etc..... Age, health, general economic times, health of company, education, family support etc...etc...etc...

  6. @Steve I agree that no matter what your qualifications are, it is hard to get a job once you are over 50. No one likes to talk about age discrimination but it is everywhere.

  7. @Steve True, disability often does result in discrimination. However, many disabilities are not readily apparent during an interview they way race always is. Age certainly present an additional challenge, but not one that can't be overcome. My husband recently changed jobs with a promotion in title and significant increase in income. That was after a decade of stagnant wages. But his impressive resume, earned him the job. That his skin is the same color as his new boss probably didn't hurt.

  8. Not everyone has the stamina MKr. Mitchell possesses, which enabled him to make the right decision. Most of us ned a helping hand, which he received through the training program. We need a lot more of this approach to have an end run around the barriers endemic in poor neighborhoods.

  9. @renee Most of us didn’t walk out of high school classes either, which is the basic ticket to moving up a little. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot if you want to get ahead.

  10. @RLS If you don't want people to walk out of their high school classes, the schools need to be rigorous, challenging, and above all, safe. Very few Philadelphia public schools can fit that description.

  11. @Canary in the Coal Mine He left school to work at challenging, rigorous Chick-fil-A. Fail.

  12. Finally an article positive of Trump economy. Mr. Mitchell has hope that will go long ways.

  13. Nice story. That Mr. Mitchell was willing to take a risk is the backbone of progress here and anywhere. That he was able to take that risk while living in a subsidized home is some level of proof that stable and affordable housing is an important foundation to enable risk taking. It's about time that employers recognize that a college degree isn't equivalent to qualified is finally about time. Also, not mentioning that his opportunities were through successive nonprofits (Americorp is a government corporation) suggests that it was the private sector that has been the biggest help. More about the unemployment rate of his peers in Philadelphia would have been helpful. Congrats to Mr. Mitchell

  14. Yet not a single Democrat stood or applauded this news during Trump’s State of the Union speech. And AAs will vote in lockstep against their own best interests for a Democrat.

  15. @M I was shocked that dems didn’t stand for this or for low unemployment. It felt like they are actually angry that people are doing well. Would they rather us suffer so they have majority power? It was upsetting to see.

  16. @M In Mr Mitchell's own words he feels a lack of change and feels fortunate. He lives the whole reality. And it is the donations and support of the JEVs organization, not President Trump, that have provided these opportunities to Philadelphia citizens. The minimum wage has been raised in 29 states, 11 of which did vote for President Trump. This is a hopeful change. Pennsylvania needs to do this. The Federal Government has not enacted a bill to raise the minimum wage, though HR 582 was passed by the Democratic House, and no action has been taken by the Republican led Senate. Hopefully, all citizens will vote based on their knowledge of the facts and their own individual experience.

  17. @M What reason would any Democrat have for applauding Trump? The economy's strength is a result of former President Obama's stewardship, not Trump's. The people who are voting against their best interests are those who follow the racist impulses of the 45th(asterisk) President.

  18. True, Mr. Mitchell has a few positives going for him; Trump as President is NOT one of them; low unemployment, his mother's guidance, his choice of computer tech- its one of the least biased work cultures. Mainly his courage and determination, he will do ok. But what about the other classmates who cut school with him? They will dead-end. Until the American culture changes towards people who are not white-white, it will be a hard road. Meanwhile, congratulations to him and the journalist.

  19. @Jean louis LONNE During Trump's administration, minority unemployment hit the lowest level in recorded history . If elected, democrats will undo everything Trump has done - but like a good recipe: why change it?

  20. @Jean louis LONNE "Until the American culture changes towards people who are not white-white, it will be a hard road" The point here is that employers who need workers don't care if their employees are black or white or green. They need people who can do the job. If you want such a job, you may need to get off your tuchus and learn the skills employers want. Sometimes it takes a little (or a lot) of determination and grit to get those skills. Now is the time to do it. More screaming about how unfair life is, is not going to change anything.

  21. @99percent The question remains, though, exactly what has Trump done to impact wage growth. I have yet to read about anything that Trump has done that would cause an increase in wages. Until someone can tell me what those things are, I can only observe that certain sectors of the economy show (continued) improvement WHILE Trump has been President but not as a result of anything he has done.

  22. What an uplifting, inspiring article. To see how Mr. Mitchell has been able to overcome the odds is heart warming; however, as he notes, it's fragile. The article does reflect how the current low unemployment rate has benefited blacks. It also reflects increased wage growth. While there have been some improvements in the wage and income inequality gap, it's been de minimis. At every level of wage distribution, the gap between blacks' and whites' wages was larger in 2018 than it was in 2000. In 2000, median black wages were 79.2% of white wages - by 2018, they were 73.3%. We still need to do much more - as while some disparities are narrowing, others are increasing.

  23. He could probably make double his 38k salary if he was in the corporate world. He should think about a move out of non-profit.

  24. Agreed. And it’s important to note that this is exactly why corporate sector needs to prioritize diversity and inclusion. “If we don’t see them, we can’t be them.” If Mr. Mitchell and others like him don’t see professionals that look like him in his field excelling at the corporate level then it is hard to imagine yourself there as well. Of course you can be a go getter and push through odds but when these same corporations aren’t hiring and promoting black talent across all levels (especially at the very visible leadership levels), then we will continue to see this trend. There’s so much potential out there and it’s often being squandered because of unconscious bias and nepotism at the higher ranks.

  25. A woman can't raise kids on her own. It takes two bread winning parents. Who ever said it was possible? Folks should stop listening to that person who did. It's not.

  26. Kudos to Mr. Mitchell. He has already achieved a great deal, and is some advice, coming from a software developer with 39 years of experience: 1. After you get your first technology job, lack of a degree just doesn't matter. I've never been asked about my degree in any interview in the last 38 years. 2. Your skills *will* atrophy; it's in the nature of technology, which is constantly changing, and companies are constantly looking for people who have experience with the latest "flavor of the month" skills. You need to constantly re-invent your technical skills. For years, i spent every evening with manuals, learning the newest technologies. It's very hard, but it pays off. Every 8-10 years, i need to take on a new job which had almost nothing to do with my previous jobs. Those who can't do that usually eventually leave technology. 3. In addition to your technical skills, you need knowledge about a specific industry or industries. Banks will pay more for computer people who know about banking. Ditto for every other industry. And the private sector will pay more, so get out of the non-profit world as soon as you can, and find a job in an industry you think is technology-centric. 4. In your 20s and 30s, try to move jobs every 3-4 years. You will learn a lot about how different companies do the same kinds of things, and you will learn how to adjust to different cultures and environments. Flexibility is key to long term success. And you will also boost up your pay.

  27. @G great advice. once you get that first IT job, and if you continue building your skills, you should always be employable and wages should increase

  28. @G I'd add: No matter what the industry, if you're useful, they'll keep you, degree or no degree. So figure out how to be useful.

  29. @G THANK YOU FOR THAT ADVICE. I think you would be a great mentor for him. Mr. Mitchell has the drive and you have the know-how!! Excellent combination if you ask me.

  30. When including the graphs in today's other job article, it's a little harder to quantify the Trump effect on a recovery that was finally happening already, especially the tax cuts of 2018. What is quite clear in the third graph here is ageism, and our rent's going up too.

  31. As a Black Female Millennial I have experienced difficulty finding an employer to pay me a livable wage. This has nothing to do with my work performance- just racial, gender, and age biases. I recognize the substantial increase in Mr. Mitchell's annual salary, but, is 38K a year a livable wage for an adult? $18.27 an hour before taxes. To buy a home, have children, or take any sort of vacation? Does he have health insurance, a 401K? No one should be appreciative of receiving the crumbs that fall from the table.

  32. @Sunny I was just going to say this. We should not be celebrating wages as poor as this. These types of stories only serve to perpetuate the myth that the economy is doing well. When the bottom 50% of the population are sharing less than 2% of the wealth in our country it is very seriously broken. $38k per year is only enough to make sure someone doesn't starve or freeze to death. And it is only that if you live in a rural area, forget it in the city. Is that really something we want to celebrate? Not me. I want to talk about how disgraceful it is that we allow a billionaire to tell us how great the economy is doing as the top 5% has hoarded 70% of the wealth. It's time for a change.

  33. @Sunny Gotta start somewhere. I have a feeling that with his drive, Mr. Mitchell will be making considerably more in the future. Who dares wins. Mr. Mitchell chose to get out of his comfort zone at Chick Fil A. A wise decision. I’d hire him.

  34. I wanted to add to my previous comment. I am happy for this gentleman that he has successfully navigated a system that is so agregiously designed to hold him back. It is people like this that embody what I believe is the true spirit of America. He deserves to have a warm, comfortable and prosperous life. I fear, though, that we have fallen asleep to the fact that most likely he, like most of us, will only find more struggle as the waves we've been asked to accept are only "crumbs from someone else's table"

  35. Here’s an observation, from an American Black. In 2009 I moved to Austin, TX, figuring I would have better job prospects than in Waco, TX. Austin took off with tech and startups. My wage growth follows the, “Whites”, trend on the chart titled, “Median Wage Growth by Race”. So which is it, location or race that causes these trends? What is the correct way to reconcile these two data points?

  36. @Christopher It is location and individual marketable skills.

  37. His story is inspiring and truly resonates with me. It frankly parallels my life. Being older, almost by a decade, than Mitchell, and have kicked myself in the past for not obtaining my education, I will encourage all like Mitchell: if you can, pursue your education. I realize college isn't for everyone, but it will truly help validate your skill set. When you solely rely on your skills you basically have to supplement your education with an expansive work history. You will almost always face wage caps and situations that you do not want to deal with just because your job pool will be smaller than what it could be with a degree. I went back to school myself and obtained an AS. I've also been certified as a Pharmacy Technician as well. I do currently make the most I've ever made and do happen to live in WESTERN Pennsylvania. The economy has been better than it has in recent years but we all know it won't stay that way. I encourage individuals such as Mitchell to research programs at the local colleges (Community, etc) for degree programs you could possibly take with minimal to no cost. Since the economy is great at the moment and certain fields are expanding their net to obtain talent, take advantage. It's literally how I obtained my Associate of Science in Biotechnology. I wasn't the best in HS. I didn't skip school (at least frequently) and I certainly didn't apply myself to my intellectual capacity. But I graduate with honors. It's never too late to reinvent yourself.

  38. I see this too as a personal story of strength rather than a political one. Mitchell will be well advised to explore programs and curricula at the Community College of Philadelphia, which serves over 20,000 students in Philadelphia each year. This will both help strengthen his skills and prepare him for higher paid employment.Like thousands of other students he can attend part time while keeping his present job.

  39. This only confirms what economists have said for years. In a service economy, it’s either fast food or jobs that require some skills. This is the story of one smart, motivated young man who happens to be black. Good for him. The title suggests that he should have been present at the state of the union address.

  40. Kudos to Mr. Mitchell. Look for a job in the private sector, many will gladly pay for night and weekend courses so that you can get your degree. There is no where to go but up for you. I look forward to reading about where you will be in 10 or 20 years.

  41. "Mr. Mitchell’s story is, on one level, a lesson in the power of a strong labor market to lift up disadvantaged communities." I disagree. I think it's more a story of the young man taking ownership of his situation and having the drive to learn marketable skills. Anyone can work at Chick-Fil-A. Not everyone can work in IT.

  42. Mr. Mitchell's success is not an exception to the rule, it is an example of the system in action. You don't advance by working the same entry-level job forever and stagnating your skill set. You advance by working hard and most importantly, learning a skill that is in demand.

  43. @Chase Boyd Not a lot of systems provide this opportunity, and when it does the positions are still pretty limited. I have two nephews who have taken advantage of apprenticeship programs over college, and it's working out for them but they also are white and come from a family with considerable financial resources. They have nothing to lose because the family social safety net will always protect them. Mr. Mitchell's risk is real, and only one thing needs to go wrong in his life for everything to come crashing down on his head - one of the most common being serious family illness requiring caregiving. When low income people have to quit a program, even briefly, it's much harder for them to return and pick up where they left off. So often, they've lost their place and go to the back of the line. Discouragement and hopelessness often set in. Those of us who have been able to rebuild their losses from the recession lament the monies and time lost but most of us over attribute to our own hard work rather than acknowledge all the resources we still had close at hand. I saw this close up with I was in graduate school in 2012, "retraining" for a new career. Family help allowed us to live in a nice house and never miss a meal during my husband's period of unemployment. On the other hand, I had classmates without the safety net of family help who sometimes lived in their cars.

  44. Unfortunately some employers refuse to change. My state has one of the lowest unemployment rates. A big supermarket chain pays $3 above minimum wage where I live but has many open jobs and a constant revolving door of low level managers. Why? They don't offer full-time. Employers don't seem to want to offer full time with benefits anymore and I think it's worse because Iowa has Medicaid expansion that gives insurance to every low income person so employers feel less pressure. Their solution to the problem? Close overnight instead of being open 24 hours. When the economy was bad they could get older people and people of color to do these jobs but now that pool have other opportunities.

  45. Missing from all the discussions of rising wages are any breakdowns that might show the effects from states, largely blue, that have raised their minimum wage in the past few years. This has allowed Trump to take credit for an improvement that is very likely driven by Democratic policies.

  46. @Linda and Michael Very likely driven by Democratic policies? Based on what? People just can't bear the thought that maybe, just maybe, Trump's policies are improving the lives of many - and not just middle-aged white males.

  47. @NX The decisions in blue states and cities to raise the minimum wage for workers in those states and cities would have a direct impact. The federal government under the GOP refuses to discuss this. The GOP prefers the mythological "trickle down" theory.

  48. This is a classic example of preparedness meeting opportunity. Mr. Mitchell was prepared with a skill set -- his affinity of computers / IT work, albeit without formal training. The opportunity came with assistance in training and certification. Now all we need to do is offer more individuals like Mr. Mitchell who have varying skill sets and proclivities more opportunities to hone those skills. That's the kind of investment in human capital that pays dividends. And it's the kind that requires continued government program expenditures. Regrettably, Trump and the Republicans would rather funnel hundreds of billions to stock buybacks. Trump has glommed onto the progress made over eight years of the Obama administration and pretends to take complete ownership of the progress. And I'm almost certain if he's re-elected that progress will be reversed, leaving us with little but additional trillions in debt and a ginned up stock market that will crash and precipitate another recession, making it harder for individuals like Mr. Mitchell to continue their progress. But that's always been Trump's modus operandi... engage in activities that make no economic sense, take his cut off the top, and then leave everyone else holding the bag.

  49. @Bruce Indeed. I just looked at some pending policy changes being considered in 2021 at the state level three I live. It's clear to me that they are being considered based on a potential change in presidential administrations - expansion in funding programs for currently ineligible groups. They are being considered because of need and community benefit; many of those who stand to directly benefit include people of color who earning fall just outside FPR. Nobody really talks about the effects of who is in office because we're not supposed to talk politics at work but every thing we do is subject to the political whims of those elected. Our governor knows this but he has increasingly aligned with Trump as well and is unlikely to be a champion of this potential funding expansion.

  50. The good news is that the confluence of the baby boomers retiring, some with savings, pensions, and almost all with social security is freeing up jobs. It’s also true that low energy prices, and deficit spending is jacking the economy. The bad news is that unless we create a sustainable future that’s environmentally responsible, this will not last. The Republican DNA to destroy the environment, deficit spend on everything except responsible sustainability, their penchant for dismantling education, and their ultimate goal to destroy social security and Medicare, will lead to disaster if unchecked.

  51. @Todd And if the GOP starts cutting Social Security, many who are of an age to retire may not be able. They will decide to hold on to their jobs and not make room for the young.

  52. @Todd - On the other hand, all the retired non-workers have to be supplied with goods and services, so less is available to those who are working, which will be reflected in lower salaries and higher prices.

  53. @Todd — The new way to cut social security is automation. Neither robots, nor robots' employers, pay a dime into any Social Security account—so the pot is going to be empty when the workers the robots displaced need to collect.

  54. Although this is good news and this is an interesting article, a more analytical approach would be helpful to understand the significance of the improvement and to confront Trump’s claim that he is responsible for the improvement. For example, a statistical analysis should point out that improvement is easier when your wages and employment are at the bottom, relative to other demographic groups. Also, in my state, minimum wages have been raised significantly in the past few years and are surely responsible for some of this improvement because the minimum wage has the greatest impact on the lowest paid workers. Put Tom Edsall on the case. He knows how to penetrate such complex issues.

  55. Who built those rows of identical subsidized housing, red-lined neighborhoods, and school systems in large urban centers? Who created the structural barriers we see in every large city in America? Who controlled city councils and zoning boards? Democrats.

  56. @TD Yea, it would have been better for them to have no housing and live on the street - Republican thinking!

  57. and Republicans.

  58. Does the Department of Labor define a job as a 40 hour a week, benefits job? Or does getting a certificate from Uber and driving your own vehicle for whatever you can make, delivering packages or pizza and getting paid per package, or working a 20 hour shift at minimum wage at a convenience store count as being "employed"? The "gig" economy is pushing more and more people into a level of "here today gone tomorrow" jobs. I applaud mr Mitchell's determination and his mother's. Without her support and example, he and his brothers would have had a very different life. The opportunity might never have come. The writer worked hard to find a success story like Mr Mitchell. Maybe he can do a followup article about the rest of Mr. Mitchell's graduation class.

  59. @Maureen Steffek The federal govt considers one "employed" who did any work in a sampling week, whether full time- 40 hrs a week or part time work.

  60. I'm a former tech recruiter and Sr. HR Mgr. In a good economy and especially in the tech field, experience, and the ability to solve problems is more highly prized than the abstract concepts a degree confers. At one company I worked for we sponsored H1-Bs with all the additional expense because we couldn't find anyone that had experience in working with our software. If we had been able to find a US citizen with the appropriate experience we would have scooped them up, degree or no degree. The skills got him in the door and he will pick up other skills on the job/ But he also has to stay current in his field. If he wants to go further and move into management the lack of a degree will become a hindrance. If he's fortunate this or another company may be willing to assist him with tuition. I'm glad that he wasn't so beaten down that he was able to realize his potential and seek out training. We probably have thousands of people in similar situations, unfortunately they don't have the vision that this young man had and they can't see anything beyond their present circumstances. The concept of getting training and moving into a professional career is beyond them. The job market is so short of workers right now that I see that many fast food places are offering tuition reimbursement to attract and retain workers. It's a great opportunity, if, applicants or current employees recognize it. Sadly many will not. I hope he keeps going.

  61. I read good comments about obtaining the credentials (college degree) ensuring one's job stability or prospects. Surely, there is a need for apprenticeships and certification programs in lieu of college. Maybe, that is a more realistic and practical way forward than necessitating a college degree for many types of skilled work. College is good, but it might not be the best starting point for underprivileged youth who might find it too difficult or strange to navigate that path. Apprenticeships can fast track a young person into a skill that resonates with them. I wish there could be more funding for these types of programs. There once was. I myself benefited from such as a medical laboratory technician. This was in the 70's. But I am still working and I have maintained my certification by additional testing after 'on the job' training and continuing c.e.'s. My qualifications are equal to what has become a mandated 2-4 year college degree. All I am asking is whether college is the only path? I am in support of education, always. But,it could take an alternate route. Businesses and industries could be incentivized(funding) to create training programs for qualified prospects showing aptitude in various lines of work. Much like the apprenticeship Marcus had. Wherever there is need of particular skill set or qualified work pool.

  62. @laura johnston I would guess you need to point your question to those who are employing IT workers. It's clear that there are many jobs in that realm in which practical experience can bring much to the table. But it seems that many organizations are looking to point out how many college grads they have. There needs to be an emphasis on other ways to train/get employees.

  63. @SEGster Yes, you are correct. Companies do pride themselves on their college degree quotient. We might agree that all that is 'on paper' doesn't necessarily assure the best mix of valued employees but it is our biggest measuring stick at present. A shift in that mindset would help.

  64. I live in Western PA and many of our building trade union's have apprenticeship programs that go unfilled because they cannot get candidates to apply. These programs are geared towards young people without a college degree and who want a career. We are trying everything we can think of to get young people interested.

  65. @Eric we have jobs left unfilled. I am in construction. The issue I see is young people don't want to get up to be at work at 7:00. They don't want to work 40 hours a week and they don't want to really work like our people must. Also we drug test and they don't want to give up smoking pot. Good jobs with paid vacation, sick leave and health insurance. The very ones they are crying that they want but they don't want to put in the effort.

  66. @John — That means the pay is not good enough, or the job is not reliable enough. Advertise a living-wage job with benefits and a solid future, and the line of applicants stretches around the block, everywhere in the country. Those jobs don't go begging. But they don't show up much anymore, either.

  67. Please do an analysis of where wages are rising; it is likely the result of state and local laws raising minimum wage. If so, Trump can take no credit for this (although he will.) If the Senate were to act on the House bill raising federal minimum wage, overall wages would be higher.

  68. @Sherry only a few states a very small percentage of the country. It would slightly affect it but most had already implemented those increases before Trump was president.

  69. @Sherry - Minimum wage laws are not going to have any impact on people who are working a $20K job and looking to get a $30K job, or are making $30K and looking for a job that pays $45K. Once you leave menial labor, employers will pay you what your work is worth to them.

  70. yes, even the lower income rungs are seeing wages rising now, higher than higher income groups. Yeaa!! The data is encouraging.

  71. I have to hand it to my fellows commenters......unwilling to give any credit to the President for the rising economic tide that is floating all ships. A good economy gives, to those willing to take it, the opportunity to better oneself. Better than all the welfare oriented programs combined. How many ex convicts are finding jobs that, in the past, would have never been hired in any responsible position? These people have the economic opportunity to get and keep their lives on the straight and narrow, like they have never had before. But we need to throw Trump out, and go back to the good old days!!

  72. @RM they have been told over and over again that Trump will start a nuclear war, deport legal immigrants, wreck the economy, is in bed with the russians, will put blacks back into slavery, take womens rights away, destroy the unions..................for over three years they have been hyped up, kept in constant hysterics being told this. When you say none of it has happened the answer is "yet". They are insane.

  73. @RM One of my favorite things about Trump is how he was with those celebrants of the renewal of the Second Chance Act. Like a proud parent, he couldn't say enough about how well those ex-cons were being received by employers. I felt so happy for them all.

  74. @RM I have to hand it to my fellow commentators who have no problem giving trump credit for this economy. President Obama took one of the worse economies this country has ever seen and turned it around and donald trump gets credit. This is so typical of America. It has a long history of denying the contributions of African Americans in this country.

  75. Another result of Trump's economy. Thank you.

  76. @Southern Boy , I am always astonished that anyone thinks that Donald Trump, who has a history of bankruptcies and failed businesses, has the business acumen to have a positive impact on the economy. He doesn't have the skill set. Bloomberg has it. Buffett has it. If it wasn't for the money that his father passed on to him, Trump would have failed earlier as a businessman.

  77. The numbers here don't really back up the anecdotes. They show charts of black and white unemployment, but not the relative difference. They show percentage of wage gains over time for black and white people, but not that the actual wage gap is decreasing. Time to get a better data scientist.

  78. @Michael Sander How do you know that the actual gap is decreasing? Mathematically, a higher percentage gain for the lower wage doesn't necessarily mean the actual dollar gap is narrowing. Do you have another source? (And the specific definition of "actual wage gap" used?)

  79. My nephew's story is similar to Mr. Mitchell's, they even grew up in the same city, and now work in the same field. The one difference is my nephew graduated from college. Despite having a degree, my nephew couldn't find employment outside the restaurant industry for years. His partner had the same issue despite majoring in a STEM discipline. After several years spent looking for entry level work, and trying to improve his chances for hire by obtaining certifications, he landed a full time job in 2019. His partner, after doing a short stint in corrections, which she was not at all suited for, landed an entry level position in her field. They are being as financially frugal as Mr. Mitchell, because they understand the meaning behind, "Last hired, first fired".

  80. It seems like Mr Mitchell is doing everything right! My dad had a similar path to his... only he didn't find his job in computer support until his 40s, so Mr Mitchell is ahead of the game. My dad's path in IT allowed him to have a pretty nice career without having a college degree. He always said that the biggest deal to his employers was whether he could get the job done, not a piece of paper, and he really enjoyed the work until he retired recently. I hope Mr Mitchell's future path is just as fulfilling.

  81. @Kristin H I predict a resurgence of American workers who do not have 4-year degrees. The worker shortage is finally catching up to supply. The commitment the Trump Administration is getting from large companies is to train older works and those with high school degrees. It really does bode well.

  82. Since Reagan real wage values have been dropping. If we had a minimum wage that kept pace with inflation then it would be between $20-30 per hour. More than even some of the proposed new minimum wages. So even those who want to raise the minimum wage do not want it to be equivalent to 1980 values. Any miserly increases now are just for show and not significant. The people are still be pushed down, and they appear to like their industrial overlords because they keep electing the corporations favorite candidates.

  83. A job in a field that pays well as opposed to menial labor. Easy to learn? No. But, it’s not America’s fault. You are responsible for you. This bodes well for our President in 2020.

  84. They didn’t rise during Obama’s term. We got this only through Trump.

  85. Presidents have marginal influence on private job increases. Name one bill or piece of legislation that Trump signed that spurs job growth in the private sector.

  86. @Jay Peters The increases are due in no small part to the increases in the minimum wage passed in Democratic states and cities.

  87. Surely some university or think tank has done a study comparing wage growth by states who have increased their minimum wages vs. those who have not? It would be helpful to have such data by income bracket, ethnicity and gender, and correlation to employment growth and unemployment rates.

  88. Wages are rising due to the fact that Boomers are retiring by the 10's of thousands every month. Less supply means higher cost. Only a fool would give this president credit for this. This economy would be better if Hillary had been elected. Trump can't get out of his his way.

  89. 7¢. Wages rising are good. Wages have been not keeping up with inflation for 25 years. A generation. And a generation in which the highest paid of the highest paid have been exempted from taxes paying virtually nothing. 7¢ is not going to help a family (with or without employer sponsored healthcare) who end up in the emergency room with with cancer are ruined. Bankrupt so that healthcare CEOs can “make” their 500 million a year. Still rigged. Probably always will be in this country with King Donny I and he corrupt corp of cronies. Unfit to govern at any speed but they are fantastic at removing the last vestiges of any social safely net that ever existed. But your reckoning will come. Vale.

  90. "But Mr. Mitchell has big goals. ..." Good for him. The lessons here are go to school, study and don;t skip school. Go to college. Be ambitious and work hard - when you do, you will succeed. Blaming others and finding excuses hurts you; pride in having done a good job and working hard will lift you and your family. Ultimately, it's up to the effort and time we are willing to invest.

  91. @Kai — And patience. Don't forget to mention patience. Nothing can undo a young black person's chances for advancement like being too insistent about getting fair treatment right now.

  92. What an extraordinary young man and what an extraordinary job JEVS does in vocational training. Congratulations to Markus Mitchell and to JEVS Human Services. JEVS truly does make Hope Happen!

  93. Curious to know, for the "Change in employment rate since January 2007" graph, you included black women, black men and white men, but excluded white women... why?

  94. Trump is right; black Americans are doing better. Many people are doing better. That's great! Let's examine this exciting new reality: If you're poor and and black, but are willing to work; or if you are white and poor, but working; or of any ethnicity and poor and working; you are fortunate to be alive now, when you can go from a $13,000 a year job to one that pays $20,000. Gosh, that is...$385 a week! So cheer up! There are plenty of people who earn that in less than an hour who are here to tell you: YOU'RE DOING GREAT. Forget that twenty grand a year is poverty level for a family of four. Yes, we're pro-family,'s probably not a good idea for YOU to have one. Unless...well...if you marry someone who's also earning poverty wages, you will be...about $5,000 above the poverty level! That's $13 a day. Enjoy. Or, even better, don't enjoy. Like a good American, set it aside for a better future. Save $13 every day without fail (don't slip up!) and in five years, you have the down payment for a house. I guess you'll have to live in poverty to do that. So, don't get sick! That would be unfortunate. You have no healthcare. But then again, we all know that hard workers can "make their own luck." Surprise: This is all GOOD news! You have the opportunity to prove that in America, under these circumstances, folks with "the right stuff" can work their way to the top. Yes, you should be THANKING Donald Trump, and voting for him and the Republicans in 2020.

  95. Folks, let's not make this another reason for divisive political arguments. JEVS Human Services has been helping people train for and find meaningful employment through a wide variety of programs since 1941. Does it really matter what administration is in place when good things are done for people whose lives benefit from their own efforts with the help of others? Please try to be inspired by Mr. Mitchell's story without loading political baggage onto it.

  96. Our nation is squandering its people. About half of all Americans are averaging just over $10 per hour. NO ONE should be making less than $15. Our schools are underfunded, with large classes and few, if any, counselors that could have made a difference to this young man. Higher education of all kinds---commmunity college, four year public universities, short job trainings---should be available to all for little to no cost. It shouldn't take good luck or finding a "loophole". People should be able to form unions to improve their pay, set up career ladders, and achieve better lives. These are "givens' in Western Europe. This is the kind of society that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren envision. It's actually possible.

  97. @Kraig - Many people can't do $15 worth of work an hour. They are just not that valuable to employers, and couldn't get a job at all if the pay was higher. Employers would hire someone else, or look to automation.

  98. @Jonathan That’s his point. That many people could be utilized to do more valuable work if we made obtaining training and education easier. This same guy if he went to a functioning high school, could be making 50-100% more and not be so vulnerable to job loss the next time a recession happens.

  99. @Jonathan Retraining is the way to go. There's no way employers are going to raise wages out of the goodness of their hearts. And if forced they will figure out how to recover their costs by passing them along. For workers to be paid more they have to be worth more to their employers. That should be, and is, the goal of the Trump Administration.

  100. This is a good story, highlighting the employment needs of black low wage workers. There is so much discussion of illegal immigrants in the workplace, why not discuss the needs of Americans? They are the ones who matter most and who should be protected and not forced to compete against illegal immigrant labor.

  101. What this story seems to leave out is that a recent study found that foreign born blacks make a much higher salary than American born African Americans. With this in mind we must ask ourselves if racism is always the problem it would seem to me that foreign born people’s would have more problems being both a minority and non American born. According to the liberal playbook that would mean they face both racism and xenophobia yet they seem to do better. Sometimes you the simple answer of yelling racism isn’t doing anyone any good. ( For the record i am biracial)

  102. @EAH It would seem, but foreign born “blacks’ (with the exception of refugees) usually arrive already educated or are part of a family with at least one professional. Comparing middle class immigrants with desirable skills to those living in poverty is apples to oranges.

  103. @EAH - Black immigrants are self-selected. They are among the most intelligent and ambitious people in their countries, who want to get ahead and come to the US to advance themselves. Black Americans who are the descendants of slaves have had a rough road, and were not volunteers to begin with. So it is really not surprising that the immigrants do much better.

  104. @EAH I'm willing to bet that the "black" guy in the article is not even black. His mom is probably a non black woman, which means he's biracial.

  105. Numbers don't lie. Unemployment among African-Americans and Hispanics is at an all time low. Food stamp and welfare recipients are returning to work and leaving the government dole. Meanwhile, Trumps favorable rating among blacks is at 25% according to the latest polls. That fact will insure his reelection in November.

  106. Now if we could Eliminate corporate welfare, just think how much additional income would go to the middle class consumer? Ok Let’s start with Trump and his family. How much do they owe in back taxes (including penalties and interest)?

  107. @paul I guess at full employment it's easiest to hire from the largest pool of the unemployed. It's a wonder what eight straight years of job creation will do to employment rates.

  108. Great news if you love America. Thank you President Trump.

  109. @Hank Thomas I find it utterly amazing that trump is getting so much credit for this economy. President Obama did all the work and trump gets all the credit. I should not be surprised though. It is the American way to pretend that African Americans have made no contributions to this country.

  110. What is this story doing in this place? This piece could easily be distorted and used to benefit the President's re-election.

  111. Wait, this story is satire, right? I mean, it has to be. AOC clearly said that picking one's self up by the bootstraps is "literally impossible", and everyone knows that she's got her finger on the pulse of black Americans, so...

  112. "Philadelphia last year raised the minimum wage for city employees and contractors, but state law prohibits the city from raising the floor for all workers. Federal efforts have yet to gain traction." @NYT -> How many stories like Mitchell's do you need to hear before you realize that raising the minimum wage is not the answer? Liberals the world over think this is some sort of cure-all for inner city poverty. Give people the opportunity for success.... our country was founded on that, if they want it they will work for it, if not, then not.

  113. @Tom raising the minimum wage is the only short term answer that provides instant tangible relief to those trapped in minimum wage jobs. That is step one. After that, we address elevating them into more meaningful work.

  114. @Tom, I agree that people need to be given the tools for success. Reading this article made me think that this young man needs to be given credit for not giving up, despite not being given any tools - his high school closed, the new school was violent and seemingly did nothing but put a diploma in his hands for showing up often enough. His mom was a teacher, and clearly instilled a love of reading and learning in him, and that seems to have made a world of difference. Maybe we should all work on making sure that there are opportunities, like decent public schools, apprenticeship programs and the like available for his peers as well. From what the article said, Mr. Mitchell had to do a bit of work to even find them. OTOH, my white suburban children had great schools,with low to no levels of violence - when they graduated, there were easily accessible community college programs where they could get job skills and training. And thanks to the fact that we had advantages as children, college was an option for them. We need to work to make sure that their peers can have the same advantages.

  115. If Obama was a white Republican, black American would say Trump has done much more for black Americans than Obama. Only because Obama was half-black and Democrat, they just keep ignoring Trump economy's positive effect and other pro-black things Trump has done such as freeing thousands of mostly black non-violent drug offenders, setting up opportunity zones in mostly black communities, giving more money to historically black colleges etc.

  116. @Asian man If President Obama was not half black, republicans would not have tried to make him a one term president and stymied practically everything he tried to do. Also, he would have been given credit for turning around the economy.

  117. Mr. Mitchell definitely start a college program. The article notes that he is an avid reader -- this is the number one indicator for success in college. If you like to read, and read for pleasure, you'll be able to handle the work. What he's earning now is certainly better than what he was earning before so that's a great step, but being in college and working to a degree, whether for an Associate or a Bachelor degree is the important next step. He should do this part-time, course by course, and he should start with one course that peaks his interest. Don't worry about applicability to work -- start with a course that lets you read what you're interested in -- literature, politics, history, philosophy. Find a public community college where the tuition and fees aren't high and wade in. Mr. Mitchell clearly had a keen analytic mind. He'll do fine in college.

  118. @historyprof The story left out that as part of the apprenticeship program, Mr Mitchell IS a part-time student at the local Philadelphia Community College

  119. Much of the wage increase among the lowest paid cam from the rise in minimum wages. It would be interesting ti see if wages in state with stagnant low minimum wages compare with those in states with rising minimums. It would tell us if the rise is due or at least partially due to real non government changes.

  120. Yes, wages are going up which is a tremendous for black people. But did the other concerns mentioned in this piece highlight the continuous concerns affecting black people not get standout. i.e: tight labor markets alone cannot undo established structural barriers, The median black worker still makes 78 cents to the median white worker’s $1 each week, black men with criminal records are virtually nonexisit in the workforce, black students are still dropping out of high school, and gentrifying is pushing black/brown people out of their communties. I can applaud the efforts that have been made but I'm sure not going to lift up a political party or guarantee a vote come election time.

  121. After a decade of stagnation, Black and African American? There's a difference?

  122. Trump was smart enough to know if he could peel away 5% more of the black vote then his re-election would be secure. Now that he has done that, and the Dems are about to abandon the only candidate that blacks support - what do you think will happen in November?

  123. @Brando Flex I’m not sure why you think the majority of African Americans are going to vote for trump just because of this economy that he had little to do with. Contrary to what you might think, most African Americans had jobs three years ago, before trump became president.

  124. @Vanessa Because Trump supports school choice, which has over 400,000 African- American students enrolled. All of the 2020 Dems want to shut down school choice. In the Florida Governor's race, Ron Desantis got 11% percent of the female black vote due to his support of school choice. That segment of the voting block is what got DeSantis elected. Why would African-Americans pull the lever for a party that has for decades completely taken their vote for granted?

  125. If, and it is still a big if, minority wages continue to do this well, November will not likely be a good month for Democrats. The pocketbook is the ultimate test in politics. Many other issues play a role but the pocketbook is paramount. Democratic candidates for president need to read this article and realize the need to address the long term economic needs of minorities. Socialist platitudes will not work if an individual believes their current benefits are threatened.

  126. What a great story. Hard not to contrast it with Rep. Ocasio-Cortez' claim that it's "physically impossible" to pull oneself up by his bootstraps. This is what progress looks like. There's no magic wand that will suddenly pull everyone up. It's one economic indicator at a time. It's also how income inequality is addressed -- that is, by raising the wages of low- and median-wage earners.

  127. @AACNY Ocasio-Cortez's point, shared by the identity politics commentariat, seems to be that refusal to work hard and be accountable for your actions, go to school, delay gratification and graduate is racistin itself - instilling in your kids the notions of accountability, responsibility and hard work are manifestations of white privilege and oppression.

  128. Mr Mitchell decided to change his path and not roll over and die.

  129. Just what the nation needs. Approving stories about the economic up-side for black people, from Bloomberg News and the Wall Street Journal. This one is a nice fit for the comfort-the-comfortable economics-writing policy the NYT has recently been trying on. Up next, a celebration of subsistence wages for college-educated, heavily-indebted recent graduates.

  130. The sad part is that the Democrats claim two things about any good news. First, even though they have done very little since Trump was elected except pursue Impeachment, they claim credit for any good news with the economy. From the day he announced that he would be a candidate, you had Democratic leaders let it be known that if he was elected, they would pursue impeachment. Then, you have Democratic hacks like Juan Williams claim that anything good that has happened is a credit to Obama. Go figure.

  131. @R The funny thing about republicans is that they want to give trump credit for the economy. President Obama inherited a depressed economy from a republican administration and turned it around. From the moment he was elected, the republicans did everything they could to make President Obama a one term president. And you republican hacks refuse to give President Obama any credit for the economy. So typical of certain races to take credit for something that they didn’t do.

  132. This is what happens when you focus your efforts productively -- that is, on yourself, gaining skills, knowing what's valuable in the market, putting in the effort to raise yourself up. Contrast this with focusing on "the rich" and waiting for someone to give you your "fair share."

  133. @AACNY I too saw what mattered most in this article: namely, the young man recognized his current plight, identified the opportunity, and began to read and learn about computers and sought out an apprenticeship. I commend him for being insightful and willing to take risks. With that type of attitude, I'm sure he will continue is education and certifications and strengthen his standing in the marketplace. To me, this article is about the young man's "can-do" attitude. Leave the politics out of it and commend the young man for his hard work and persistence.

  134. Sentence should read, "The median black worker still makes 78 cents to the median white MALE worker’s $1 each week."

  135. Still not a living wage for Philadelphia cost of living

  136. I don't care who's doing. I'm glad it's happening.

  137. Wow, everyone is working. What about the fact that 70 percent of American families are one week's paycheck away from financial bankruptcy and with Trump destroying Obamacare, we know that bankruptcy is definitely present. Like the iceberg awaiting the Titanic.

  138. I wonder what percentage of that miraculous increase in the total wealth represented by the stock market belongs to Mr. Mitchell? How is his 401K investment faring?

  139. The comments made by Jonathan (from Texas) below are as inaccurate as they are offensive. The upward turn in the economy and employment is due to changes made by President Obama and the legislation he moved forward before leaving office, legislators, and an often overlooked grassroots movement that works continuously to insure the implementation of those changes. It usually takes around two years before the public sees and/or experiences legislative change made in the areas of employment and the economy. (A similar overlap scenario occurred after President Clinton left office and ignorant people credited Bush for any positive change/legislation made by the Clinton Administration.) So stop crediting the bigot who currently occupies the White House with President Obama’s hard work, intellect, and persistence. Furthermore, it is a fact the majority of white Americans (most of whom are either poor or working class but don’t know it) vote against their self-interests because of long-held racist beliefs. In regards to the upcoming presidential election, no one intelligent will vote for the bigot who currently and unlawfully occupies the Office of the President.

  140. Thank you for finally addressing the issue of Black employment. Yes it is good to have a job but prosperity is limited to a few. However, there is no way for this man to be an independent adult making $38000/year. In contrast, we have the Ivanka Trump making $8 million /year from Trump DC alone. Further a Opportunity Zones have helped the rich and connected like Chris Christy and Anthony Scaramucci.

  141. @Barbara He's only 24 and making $38K. That's not that bad for a young person. He has the ambition and intelligence to continue to better himself, as he already has. Why is it so difficult to see that and to be optimistic for him? Because nobody should be benefiting during the Trump administration??

  142. “I know that the fact that I don’t have a degree puts me at a disadvantage, over my peers,” he said. “I’ve gained enough knowledge to go and do computer work for people myself, so if that’s what I had to do, I’d do it.” Yep, sadly he is in the exact same boat as Bill Gates was when Bill left college to work for himself with the terrible handicap of no college degree and look where owning his own business got Bill Gates.

  143. Bill Gates parents were upper-middle class professionals who afforded their son every opportunity, including the leisure to play with the new computers that were not readily available to everyone in our society. Mr. Gates would not be so good to say that he just pulled himself up by his bootstraps. He had a path of Sterling silver load out before him.

  144. I don't understand how this article can state wages are rising for minorities and implicitly giving the 'Trump' economy credit without stating the real reason there has recently been an uptick in wages - namely that 26 states and many localities have recently passed laws raising minimum wage levels. The Republican Party - including Trump have aggressively opposed these raises yet hypocritically claims credit for 'rising wages'.

  145. Congratulations to this young man who decided to learn a 21st century skill. IT knowledge and experience should carry him through his working life.

  146. How many were at the new minimum wage increased by the States? How many more whites than blacks wages increased at the same time frame?

  147. One man's story is just that - one man's story. Big picture - Black's 78 cents versus White's Dollar is embarrassing. The comparison would be much worse if you compared Black men to White men as women are still paid less than 85 cents versus men. Latinos are also underpaid. Where is the article that fairly deals with the facts versus highlighting one man's experience to conclude that "things are better now". Better is not good enough. There is a long way to go.