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Black/White Wage Convergence: The Role of Public Sector Wages and Employment

William J. Carrington, Kristin McCue and Brooks Pierce
Industrial and Labor Relations Review
Vol. 49, No. 3 (Apr., 1996), pp. 456-471
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
DOI: 10.2307/2524197
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2524197
Page Count: 16
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Black/White Wage Convergence: The Role of Public Sector Wages and Employment
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Abstract

This paper assesses the relative contribution of the public and private sectors, through their employment and wages, to the black/white wage convergence that occurred in the U.S. economy over the 1963-92 period. Applying standard decomposition methods to Current Population Survey data, the authors show that almost all the convergence in black/white relative wages in the 1963-75 period was due to black/white convergence in the private sector. Similarly, the post-1975 slowdown in black/white wage convergence was almost completely due to a corresponding slowdown in the private sector. The unimportance of the public sector, the authors argue, arises for two reasons: the public sector never accounted for more than 20% of civilian employment over the 1963-92 period; and blacks' historic success in that sector left relatively little room for further wage gains there, whereas in the private sector blacks had considerable ground to make up.

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