The earnings gap between whites and minority groups, after narrowing dramatically in the late 1960s and early 1970s, is as wide today as it was five years ago.
The weekly paycheck of Hispanics is no higher - and is probably lower - than that of blacks.
Women earn about 60 percent of what men do, just as they did 10 years ago.
As of last May, the median weekly earnings of American workers - a statistical mid-point at which half the workers earn more and half earn less - was $237. This breaks down to $279 for white men, $218 for men who are members of minority groups, $167 for white women and $158 for minority-group women. The median weekly income was $294 for professional and technical workers, $167 for clerical workers, $279 for craft workers and $59 for private household workers such as domestics.
These are some of the data that can be found in the annual Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of the median weekly earnings of American workers. The survey measured earnings since 1967 in both "real" dollars offset for inflation and in current dollars. For the first time it also examined the earnings of blacks and Hispanics separately from the catchall category of minorities.
In many areas, the survey gave credence to the old maxim that the more things change the more they stay the same.
Looking at the overall work force, for instance, it found that the weekly earnings of fulltime wage and salary workers rose 7 percent over the past year, from $212 to $227. But then it noted that consumer prices also rose about the same rate. Hence no change in terms of buying power.
In fact, the real income of these workers, while slightly ahead of what it was in 1967, has not caught up with the pre-inflation high that was set in 1973.
Going back to 1967, it appears that blacks and other monorities have made the greatest strides - a gain of 22 percent in real earnings as contrasted with 5 percent for whites.
But the hard truth hidden away in the small print of the charts and graphs is that all this progress occurred between 1967 and 1973, before the vicious cycle of inflation and recession put an end to the economic dividends of the civil rights movement of the previous decade.
In 1973, the real earnings of minorities were 24 percent higher than they were six years earlier in 1967. But by this year, five years later, real earnings had slipped slightly, to 22 percent above the 1967 level.
Whites gained 8 percent in real earnings between 1967 and 1973, but the gain dropped back to 5 percent above the 1967 level by this year.
The perpetuation of the earnings gap between whites and minorities is best illustrated by another set of statistics: median earnings by minorities as a percentage of median earnings by whites. In 1967, minorities' median earnings were 70 percent of whites ($79 as opposed to $113). By 1973 the figure had risen to 80 percent. This year it was still 80 percent. This year it was still 80 percent ($186 as opposed to $232).
The racial disparities are largely among male workers. While the median weekly paycheck for women has been locked in at about 60 percent of the median for men, there is scarely any difference in earnings among white, black and Hispanic women.
For blacks and Hispanics as a whole, the survey showed that Mexican-Americans, Puerto Ricans and others of Spanish backgrounds (black as well as white) have a slightly lower median earning level than blacks as a whole, althouh Bureau of Labor Statistics officials caution that the diference is considered statistically insignificant.
The figure show that median weekly earnings for 1978 amounted to $181 for blacks and $174 for Hispanics (compared with $232 for whites).
An occupational breakdown showed the greatest black-Hispanic disparity among professional and technical workers, with blacks earning $216 compared with $192 for Hispanics and $245 for whites. Only among farm workers do Hispanics earn the same as white and significantly more than blacks, $144 as opposed to $110.
A recent Census Bureau report on annual family earnings showed Hispanics' median income last year higher than blacks'. Officials said the difference between the two reports may arise from the use of family vs. individual earnings and annual vs. weekly pay as well as other factors.
The BLS survey also found:
While real earnings for both male and female fulltime workers aged 25 and older increased by about 15 percent since 1967, real earnings for workers aged 16 to 24 have decreased slightly.
The median hourly wage for workers paid by the hour was $4.10 in May, $1.45 above the federal minimum wage of $2.65. Men earned $5.30 an hour, women $3.30.
About 30 percent of all fulltime workers reported earnings of $300 or more per week, up from 25 percent the previous year. The percentage was 44 for white men, 22 for black men and 9 for women (black and white). Among Hispanics 21 percent of the men and 4 percent of the women reported incomes of $300 or more.