New Georgia State University Study Finds Significant Racial Pay Gaps in State Government

A new study by researchers at Georgia State University in Atlanta has found that the racial wage gap exists even in public service. The study found that White men earn significantly more than Blacks, Latinos and Latinas, and White women in all areas of state government.

The research team used Census Bureau data on individual employees from 1980-2015 to examine how much progress state governments have made toward eliminating racial and gender pay differences, and whether differences in education, experience, citizenship, English language skills, hours worked, and professions explain the pay gaps.

The study states “In 1980, Blacks, Latinxs, and White and Asian women all earned 21 to 40 percent less than White men, on average. These pay disparities shrank in the next 20 years, but only Asian women have made progress relative to White men since 2000.”

These pay gaps are partially explained by a number of characteristics. On average, White men have more education, are older, and more likely to be native-born citizens than all other groups and they work longer hours than women. However, Black men still earn 12 percent less and women earn 13-23 percent less than White men with comparable experience and education.

Greg Lewis professor and chair of the department of public management and policy at Georgia State University, was the lead-author on this study. Regarding his research, he stated, “The good news is, state governments pay more equitably than private firms for every group in every year. The bad news is that unexplained pay differences remain wide, and have not narrowed much since 2000.”


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