Whites Widen Income Gap, Study Shows : Median Pay Slips for Black, Latino Families

From Associated Press

Southern whites who have been to college and now live in the suburbs of a small city are likely making the most progress in bettering their financial standing, a Census Bureau analysis indicated Wednesday.

Overall, white families increased their median income by 1.1% from 1986 to 1987, while the incomes of black and Latino families slipped, according to the report “Money Income of Households, Families and Persons in the United States: 1987.”

The 1987 median income of white families was $32,274, up from $31,935 a year earlier, the report said.

By comparison, median income for blacks was $18,098, down from $18,247. For Latinos, the median fell to $20,306 from $20,726, according to the study, an expanded version of an analysis released in August that found nearly one-third of all black Americans living in poverty.


While the earlier report detailed the poverty status of various segments of society, the new edition contains extensive detail on income for differing groups.

Among family groups, the highest incomes were reported for white married couples at $35,295, up from $34,647. Black married couples saw their median income fall from $27,554 to $27,182; for Latino couples, the figure dropped from $24,786 to $24,677.

Some College Helped

White families maintained by a woman with no husband present had an income increase from $16,290 to $17,018.


Black female heads of households reported an increase from $9,640 to $9,710. Among Latinos, the median for this group edged up from $9,777 to $9,805.

The biggest income gain by education was for people with from one to three years of college. Families headed by people in this category saw their incomes rise from $35,455 to $36,392.

Ranked by education, families headed by people with more than five years of college still had the highest income at $54,491, but that was down a bit, from $54,595. And for those with four years of college, income fell from $47,269 to $46,533.

High school graduates saw an 0.6% increase from $29,765 to $29,937, while income for families headed by those with some high school education climbed from $20,854 to $21,265. Family income for those with no high school education fell from $14,616 to $14,547.

Regionally, Southerners led in income gains, with median family income rising from $27,684 to $28,250, up 2%.

Despite having the largest gain, Southerners continue to have the nation’s lowest median income.

Drop in Inner Cities

In the Northeast, the rise was 1.8%, from $33,335 to $33,938, and, in the Midwest, 1.1%, from $30,665 to $30,991. In the West, median income slipped 0.2% from $32,096 to $32,026.


By residence, the greatest gain was 3.6% for families living in the suburbs of cities with less than 1 million people. Their income rose from $32,034 to $33,192.

Rural residents were next, increasing their incomes 1.3%, from $24,078 to $24,397. Large-city suburbanites had income growth of 1.1% from $39,850 to $40,270.

Inner-city residents of large cities had an income drop from $27,654 to $27,458, while families in smaller inner cities saw their income dip from $27,614 to $27,294.