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The U.S. is well on its way to becoming a majority-minority country within three decades, according to federal government projections. Non-white populations are growing in size and scope every year. However, this expanding representation is not reflected in their share of the nation’s total wages and income.
Income inequality grew during the past recession, with non-Hispanic whites taking in a disproportionate share of the nation’s total wages and income from 2008 to 2010. According to Sentier Research, a firm specializing in income statistics, non-Hispanic whites reaped 76 percent of the nation’s total wages and income, despite only making up 64 percent of the U.S. population.
While their share of total income was down from 78 percent at mid-decade, that’s more of a reflection of the shrinking non-Hispanic white population than any real change in income distribution.
According to Sentier, Hispanics earned about 9 percent of the nation’s total wages and income while accounting for about 16 percent of the nation’s population. African Americans, who make up 13 percent of the country’s residents, also account for 9 percent of the total income.
The report confirms earlier findings from wealth distribution surveys that documented an increase in income inequality during the recession as middle- and low-income households experienced relatively greater declines in wages and income than wealthier households.
Some experts also view the drop as a reflection of the tremendous loss of home equity many households experienced, because the housing crisis disproportionately affected middle- and low-income homeowners. Regardless of why, the decline could lead to fewer families having the ability to send their children to college and generally get the education they need to be high earners going forward, say some analysts.
One group that kept pace and even exceeded their share of income was Asian Americans, who make up about 5 percent of the U.S. population and earned slightly more than that as a total of wages and income. Experts attribute their success to the presence of many two-income households and more workers in higher salaried positions in the science and tech industries.