Black and Latino families in Pennsylvania live on meager incomes compared to the White families, and, for many, that means surviving below the poverty line.
Black families, on average, earned about 57 percent of what White families made in 2010. Latino families fared even worse, earning about 52 percent of what a White family takes home.
In the 2010 Census, Blacks made up 11 percent of the state population, and Latinos comprised about 6 percent.
Carl Redwood, executive director of the Hill District Consensus Group, said more minorities are affected by the stagnating minimum wage of $7.25.
Many of the estimated 17,000 residents of the Hill District — a primarily Black area between downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland — have service-related jobs. Most of those are part-time and offer few, if any, health or retirement benefits, Redwood said.
“You can’t build wealth,” he said. “You can’t pass on assets to your children like that.”
President Barack Obama proposed in the Feb. 12 State of the Union Address that the minimum wage be raised to $9 by 2015.
Although Blacks were long excluded from the highest-paying jobs in steel mills, one person with a steel mill job could support an entire family in the Hill District in the late 1960s and the 1970s, Redwood said.
“It helped families move forward, from being renters to homeowners to providing enough for their children to go to college,” he said. “The better-paying jobs have disappeared. People here are in survival mode.”