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New Census Data Detail Empire State’s ‘Opportunity Divide’

September 28, 2007

New York, NY — Skin color in New York greatly influences a person's earnings and education, according to a new analysis of census data released Thursday. The report shows African-American workers earn $.62 for every dollar earned by a white worker.

Rinku Sen at the Applied Research Center, says Latinos fare even worse, earning only $.54 for every dollar. She says it all adds up to a big opportunity divide in New York.

"Skin color makes quite a big difference in determining what income and education you’ll achieve in New York."

Sen says the opportunity divide can be seen in New York’s restaurant industry, where white workers generally land the top jobs and people of color end up in the back of the house.

"Prepping food, dishwashing, things like that are taken up by Latinos and Bangladeshis right now; so there’s a big gap in what kinds of jobs people of color can get in the state."

Whites are nearly twice as likely to have a bachelor’s degree as African-Americans in New York, while only one-in-seven Latinos have a college degree. Sen says New York needs to take steps to bridge that educational divide.

"We need to keep our public universities really public, making them as easy to attend as possible, and keeping the fees low."

Nationwide, the Census Bureau survey found poverty declined slightly from 2005 to 2006, but not in New York. 11 percent of families here now live in poverty.

ARC data analysis of the census data is online at

Michael Clifford/Eric Mack, Public News Service - NY