Colorado’s Racial Wealth Gap: Wages & Labor

Labor has always been a central piece of our American story. From slavery and indentured servitude and the original revolutionary Republican promise of independence, to the now-familiar necessity of wage-earning workers, America’s history has been largely shaped by the relationship of workers to their bosses and the purchasing power of the American worker. One often overlooked aspect of this history is the role race played in shaping and defining who the “average” American worker is, and how this history can be accounted for in our present moment. 

By limiting access to credit, homeownership, education, and equality in the labor market while funneling disproportionate amounts of criminal justice resources into communities of color, the United States has intentionally created a separate and unequal economy that prevents most black, indigenous, and other peoples of color from accessing the American Dream and experiencing upward mobility.

This final brief in the Bell’s current racial wealth gap series will examine the reality of wages and occupations by race in Colorado, how the history of American labor relations has shaped this reality, and how we can use the information in this brief and this research series to chart a path to a better, more prosperous future.

While this research series has outlined some of the major problems in Colorado’s economy as it relates to race, there are many more areas of our economy and society where these problems are present. Expect the Bell Policy Center to continue researching these issues and fighting for racial economic justice and economic mobility for all Coloradans.