Using CPS Data to Compare Wages by Race

Drawing on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey (CPS), Analysis Group assessed variation in weekly income among selected samples of young white and black employees. We found that in a 1990 sample, the young black workers earned an average weekly wage of $263, compared with $301 for the young white workers. After controlling for workers’ characteristics (education, state of residence, etc.), the wage gap between the cohorts dropped to $19, but remained statistically significant. In a 2006 sample, the wages increased to $430 for blacks and $473 for whites. After controlling for variation in characteristics using multiple regression, the wage gap in the selected sample was no longer statistically significant. These findings underscore the benefits of applying multiple regression to analyze wage differentials.