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Black Canadians paid less on average than whites: study

SHAUN BEST/Shaun Best/Reuters

It's not just a perception -- black Canadians really are paid on average less than white Canadians.

The uncomfortable truth surfaced in a new Statistics Canada study on immigrants and wages out this week.

It found that second-generation blacks face a wage gap of about 10 to 15 per cent compared with non-visible minorities. The gap persists even though the results were controlled for education and residencial location.

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Statscan didn't explain why it think there's a persistent wage gap -- but it didn't rule out discrimation. "Wage discrimination may or may not be a contributing factor," the agency said.

Little economic research has delved into why the gap exists. But Statscan does cite a 2008 study, by University of Toronto professor Philip Oreopoulos, which found job applicants with English-sounding names are much more likely to get a job interview than applicants with non-English-sounding names.

The Statscan study found the income gap is the widest between second-generation black Canadians and white people. The gap is narrowest between Chinese and whites.

It also looked at gender, and found second-generation males who are visible minorities tend to earn less than their white counterparts "in spite of the fact that they are more likely to live in large centres and that they have higher levels of educational attainment."

It may simply take more time for the earnings gap to close, the report said. "It may be that economic integration is a multi-generational process," said authors Garnett Picot and Feng Hou, who also delved into labour market outcomes among immigrants in the U.S.

The 40-page study was newly released this week. A word of caution though -- it is based on weekly wages recorded in 2005. It's impossible to know precisely how those gaps have changed, though Statscan's labour force survey shows immigrants were hit harder in the labour market by the recession.

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