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Mmm...Census Data

The census only happens once every ten years, but every now and again they release some data on some subject or another and it's often interesting. Today is race, gender, and income among the college educated day:

A white woman with a bachelor's degree typically earned $37,800 in 2003, compared with $43,700 for a college-educated Asian woman and $41,100 for a black woman, according to data to be released Monday by the Census Bureau. Hispanic women took home $37,600 a year. . . .

A white male with a college diploma earns far more than any similarly educated man or woman - $66,000 a year, the Census Bureau said. Among men with bachelor's degrees, Asians earned $52,000 a year, Hispanics $49,000 and blacks $45,000.

Hm . . . my salary is less than a Latina's, but freelance work, BlogAds, and investments should push me into non-black woman territory. Still, there's no denying that I'm seriously undershooting my race- and gender-determined earnings potential here.

UPDATE: Who knew everyone would be so interested in a story that was basically reporting facts we already knew? But what she said.

March 28, 2005 | Permalink

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Comments

Still, there's no denying that I'm seriously undershooting my race- and gender-determined earnings potential here.

Buck up son. I'm sure if you account for age you're doing just fine. There's plenty of time yet to grow up to be the man.

Posted by: WillieStyle | Mar 28, 2005 5:39:36 PM

Matthew, the penury you've been suffering as a result of fulfilling your calling as a noble-and-intelligent-but-low-paid political commentator has left your taste buds deprived. You're saying "mmm..." to even the thinnest of gruel.

Much more tasty would have been means and standard deviations for (1) hourly wages, (2) hours per week, and (3) weeks of unpaid vacation/maternity leave. As the New York Times story states immediately after the except you quoted,

The bureau did not say why the differences exist. Economists and sociologists suggest several possible factors: the tendency of minority women, especially blacks, to more often hold more than one job or work more than 40 hours a week, and the tendency of black professional women who take time off to have a child to return to the work force sooner than others.

Posted by: William Kaminsky | Mar 28, 2005 5:45:50 PM

That's a fairly pitiful salary for someone who lives in D.C.

I think it's just K Street keeping Matthew down. {grin}

Posted by: roguerunner | Mar 28, 2005 6:14:25 PM

Well said roguerunner. Perhaps if Matthew keeps keeping his mind on the money he might someday become well situated enough to get the last laugh on K Street, which, I agree, is somewhat of a joke.

Posted by: fnook | Mar 28, 2005 6:33:44 PM

Matt's mistake was his failure to major in chemical engineering. Or just about ANY branch of engineering, for that matter. It's really kind of silly to look at what a college degree does for your earnings, and ignore what the subject of the degree is.

http://money.cnn.com/2004/07/26/pf/college/pay/degree_worth_summer.gif

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Mar 28, 2005 6:42:13 PM

The salaries listed are averages, correct? I couldn't get to the link, but I'm assuming they are. Given that you've just entered the workforce, your income should probably be lower, considering that many 50-60 year olds are bringing up the average by earning salaries of $100,000+. I was somewhat surprised by the numbers as well, thinking that I was underperforming as a college-educated white male.

Posted by: Dave Beaudreau | Mar 28, 2005 6:42:47 PM

Coming out of college with an engineering degree, it's typical to earn $40-50,000 your first year. If you chose one of the liberal arts, $20-30,000 is more typical.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Mar 28, 2005 6:51:52 PM

Think of it this way: people who stay in their pajammas until the PM rarely make anything aty all. You're ahead of the game AND you get to scratch.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis | Mar 28, 2005 7:15:36 PM

Wait, white women earn less than black women? Is that for real? What would explain that?

Posted by: John | Mar 28, 2005 7:44:13 PM

Probably because black women are less likely to be married and, therefore, more likely to work long hours.

Posted by: Matthew Yglesias | Mar 28, 2005 8:04:37 PM

EXACT-A-MUNDO, young Yglesias.

Posted by: Roxanne | Mar 28, 2005 8:25:03 PM

It's funny how a post invoving hard statistical data immediately degenerates into empty-headed ideological speculation and partisan bitchslapping such as Roxanne's.

It you want to explain these differences then just stfu and go find the data, rather than saying "my uninformed speculation is bigger than yours". Sheesh.

And people wonder why engineers get paid the big bucks.

Posted by: ronb | Mar 28, 2005 9:47:19 PM

a post invoving hard statistical data

The only "hard statistical data" tells us that, salary-wise, white men WTFPWNINTEHFACE women of any skin color.

Posted by: mythago | Mar 29, 2005 12:04:56 AM

None of those figures means anything, since we don't know the size of each cohort, nor the ages of the people in those cohorts. "Lies, damned lies, and statistics" is especially appropriate for news stories like these, since we literally do not know what these numbers mean.

Of course, that won't stop people from stupidly commenting on how these numbers confirm "what we all know."

Posted by: Michael | Mar 29, 2005 7:40:47 AM

I have a Computer Engineering degree from a small liberal arts school and I make more than MY? Something is wrong here. Especially considering the useless product I actually work on contributes basically nothing to society.

Posted by: Adrock | Mar 29, 2005 9:41:01 AM

I wonder how much Oprah's money offsets these statistics? Seriously, though, the people making millions are going to skew the numbers significantly. I would imagine that there are many more white males (by percentage) making millions than other races. What are the statistics on black mothers being single parents whereas a white mother could have a degree but only a part time type job? You can't draw conclusions from a fairly small amount of data. I want to see the outliers...

Posted by: Mikebdot | Mar 29, 2005 10:22:25 AM

Let's not forget that black women are much less likely to be married to a high-earning spouse than white women are. There's a negative correlation between spouse's earnings and own earnings for women, when controlling for other personal characteristics.

Matt, by the way, is on the low-end of his life-cycle earnings profile. Earnings - particularly for men - tend to grow with age, peaking in the early 50s. I doubt that Matt will still be living on his blog ads in 15 years.

And as a Census Bureau economist - Matt, for shame - Census does a hell of a lot more surveys than the Decennial Census: the Current Population Survey (joint with BLS -remember those 'household' employment numbers?), the Survey of Income and Program Participation, the American Community Survey, the Economic Censuses, American Housing Survey....and many many others. As a journalist, you should have much better awareness of economic and social data than that.

These figures you're citing above are from the Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the 2004 Current Population Survey (CPS).

Posted by: Matilde | Mar 29, 2005 11:02:44 AM

Engineers don't actually make a lot of money, by the way. Although they have high starting salaries compared to other new college graduates, engineers have notoriously low age/tenure profiles (their earnings don't go up as much as other college graduates as they get older), probably due to rapid skill depreciation.

Pity, since I'm married to one. ;)

Posted by: Matilde | Mar 29, 2005 11:07:33 AM

Matt, by the way, is on the low-end of his life-cycle earnings profile. Earnings - particularly for men - tend to grow with age, peaking in the early 50s. I doubt that Matt will still be living on his blog ads in 15 years.I'll take a piece of that action...I think MY is pretty much where he'll be for the next 15 years in terms of earnings, unless he gets a huge break, or leaves "journalism" altogether. Why do you think rags like The New Republic give high editorial positions to people like Beinart and Chait before their 30th birthdays? Because the pay is so low, they couldn't get anyone else.Opinion Journalism is a little like being named to the cast of Saturday Night Live: a gig you should only do 2-3 years tops before youe either get a break into film (e.g. Adam Sandler), move to different venues (e.g. Dennis Miller) or wear out your welcome. Stick around too long on the set, like, say a Kevin Nealon, and you'll lose any chance at anything else.Now, transpose that analogy to the opinion journalism racket, and you'll see that (if he stays in journalism) MY goes in one of two directions:(a) the good: He gets that TNR or Harper's gig in the next 2 years. Then onto being Atlantic Monthly correspondent or LA Times weekly columnist circa 2010-11, then the ultimate prizes of book deals and a national paper pulpit around the time of the 2012 election or the 2014 midterms. Earnings potential: Sky's the limit(b) the bad:He kicks around TAP for five years or so and becomes the Adam Goldberg of the left-center--a one-time up-and-comer stuck in a rut. By 2009 that law school application is in the mail to (where else) Harvard. Earnings potential: and (c) the ugly: He stays in journalism waaaay past his sell-by date and either becomes a creepy fortysomething intellectual whore like Michael Lind, looked on as a former wunderkind gone stale, or (worse) becomes an internet-only crank preaching to lunatics, a Joseph Sobran of the left. Earnings potential: Some cash in the bank, but it profits a man nothing to sell his soul for...

Posted by: The Man of K Street | Mar 29, 2005 11:56:59 AM

The point is that option (a) is a very low-probability event: for every David Brooks who's hit the jackpot, there are a dozen Christopher Caldwells still toiling in the vineyards who seem to have missed their boats...

Posted by: The Man of K Street | Mar 29, 2005 12:09:26 PM

"I'll take a piece of that action...I think MY is pretty much where he'll be for the next 15 years in terms of earnings, unless he gets a huge break, or leaves "journalism" altogether. Why do you think rags like The New Republic give high editorial positions to people like Beinart and Chait before their 30th birthdays?"

You must be unaware that Beinart just scored a $600,000 book advance.

"He stays in journalism waaaay past his sell-by date and either becomes a creepy fortysomething intellectual whore like Michael Lind, looked on as a former wunderkind gone stale..."

There are far worse fates than that of Lind's. He may not be fashionable, but he's closer to the truth than 95% of voices on the left. It's easier to sell out than to be a prophet.

Posted by: Petey | Mar 29, 2005 12:19:17 PM

"Matt's mistake was his failure to major in chemical engineering. Or just about ANY branch of engineering, for that matter."

Before anyone deviates from their chosen path, to, I'll reinforce what Matilde said: engineer salaries tend to plateau out pretty rapidly, and. Engineering's attractive 'cos it's one of the few professions that you can get into with only a bachelor's or master degree with little need for professional exams, but you pay for (or rather, don't get paid for) that low barrier to entry.

Especially as much of engineering is funglible across borders, so Western Engineers are competing against graduates from the Indian Institute of Technology, who can kick MIT butt. (MIT has a ~10-to-1 kill ratio in applications; IIT has a 100-to-1 [!] kill ratio).

Posted by: Urinated State of America | Mar 29, 2005 1:24:31 PM

"It's funny how a post invoving hard statistical data immediately degenerates into empty-headed ideological speculation and partisan bitchslapping such as Roxanne's.

It you want to explain these differences then just stfu and go find the data, rather than saying "my uninformed speculation is bigger than yours". Sheesh.

And people wonder why engineers get paid the big bucks."

This engineer is wondering where you are coming from. Roxy pointed out that Malkin had selectively ignored the data regarding those of us with external plumbing; probably because it completely fucking hosed Malkin's sorry-ass theory. That was it. No wild-ass speculation by Roxy. Just a well-deserved slapping of Malkin.

Anyway, this engineer need to get back to earning the big bux.

Posted by: Urinated State of America | Mar 29, 2005 2:02:30 PM

Engineers might start with the big bucks but unless they move into management, invent something, or start there own company they will quickly top out in the $70-120K range. They will wonder what happened when their roomy who was a business major, couldn't add two number without a calculator to save is life, is his boss making $150K+ 15 years after graduation. That's life.

My kids will get hard-science undergrad then straight to business or law school!

Posted by: buffpilot | Mar 30, 2005 4:09:03 PM

Yes, this is all true about engineers. They start out at a fairly high salary and then just stay there, with the only hope of a pay increase being inflation. Believe me, my dad is an engineer and we are all upset to see him spend six years in college to work fifty hours a week, never get any real raises in his life, while these damn businesspeople are out there making millions while contributing very little to society or even the economy really. Anyway, I guess that engineers make enough to live on and thats all that really counts.

Posted by: Normad | Apr 24, 2005 11:36:22 PM

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