Sociological perspective of poverty – Results & discussion

Figure 3: Racial inequalities in job-related Benefits (Employer-paid training and pay rise)


Job-related benefits:The obseved racial inequalities in employer- paid training and pay rise between the minority races and the European Americans (Figure obtained from appendix 2 compiled statistics).


Statistics for the U.S census bureau indicate that poverty still remains a problem that the society must confront. The estimated rate of poverty in 2008 for example, revealed a 0.7 percentage increase from the previous year – an increase noted to be “the first statistically significant annual increase…since 2004” (US Census Bureaua 2009: 13). What makes this a social problem is that the poverty statistics still reveal a racial inequality in a number of characteristics. A statistically significant increase in poverty is for example noted for non-Hispanic (European) whites and Hispanics (Latino Americans) whereas the poverty levels for African Americans remained statistically unchanged from the previous year (US Census Bureaua 2009). Of the proportionate representation, the statistics however indicate that a higher percentage of the African Americans are poor as related to both the Latino American percentages and those of European Americans (figure 2). Only the poverty rate for European Americans fell below the entire population poverty rates with the minority races having a great variation from the entire populations’ poverty rate (figure 2) These statistics indicate that European Americans levels of well being might be far much better as compared to those of the general population and of the minority groups. These findings relate to earlier findings (Snipp and Hirschman 2005) that though the minority groups could have made advances in specific aspects to reduce their poverty levels, racial inequality gap in the well-being of the American still remains a problem to be tackled.

Income levels also buttress the observed racial inequalities. Median per capita incomes for African Americans, Latino Americans and European Americans for example were found to be 18,406; 15,674; and 31,313 thousands of dollars respectively compared to the median per capita income for the entire population of 26, 964 thousands of dollars (US Census Bureaua 2009:7). This also shows an upper hand of the European Americans as compared to the minority races as their median per capita incomes are above those of the total population whereas those of the minority groups lie below the median per capita incomes of the general population (figure 2). Individual incomes below the specified poverty threshold levels stress more on the inequalities in the amount of incomes based on racial affiliations. The proportion of European Americans that is below the poverty thresholds is almost to magnitudes of two times and three times lower than those of Latino Americans and African Americans respectively (figure 2).  This point to the earlier observations that minority groups are more aggregated on low paying jobs whereas the white majorities are mainly get high caliber jobs with lucrative rewards (Hirschman & Kraly 1990; Huffman 2004; Semyonov and Herring 2007). Such inequalities in the jobs between the minority and the European Americans may be the reasons for the observed job related benefits.

Assessment of persons without health coverage also indicates that racial inequalities also permeate the precincts of employer paid benefits. The proportion of European Americans without health insurance coverage is noted to be lower than those of the African Americans, Latino Americans and the total population (Figure 2). This perhaps is related to the observed differences in income earnings which are also related to employment type that the minorities are able to secure as compared to the whites (Hirschman & Kraly 1990; Huffman 2004; Semyonov and Herring 2007). The analysis of state and local government full time employees’ statistics (US Census Bureaub 2009) for example reveals that proportions of the minority races (African Americans and Latino Americans) that are employed in lower cadre jobs are higher than those of the European Americans and higher than those of the total employees (Figure 1). In the higher paying jobs however the situation reverses with the European Americans being represented more in those jobs than the average population representation whereas the minority groups have lower representation that those averages (Figure 1). Such inequalities are also evident in the job-related benefits such as employer-paid training and pay rises (Yang 2007). While Latino Americans perform poorly with regard to employer-paid training with respect to other races and the entire sample, the African Americans are the poorest performers in regard to pay rises (figure 3). The European Americans have the best ratings in both employer-paid training and pay rises among the sampled races and also compared to the entire sample (figure 3). Go to causes of poverty.

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