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US college graduates from certain backgrounds will start out their careers behind some of their peers, new data suggests.

May’s jobs report showed that, on average, black college graduates between the ages of 21 and 24 earn $3.34 less per hour than their white counterparts. Over the course of a year this amounts to a difference of about $7,000. Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a left-leaning think tank, also reveal that the gulf between the wages of female and male young college graduates stands at $3.15 per hour.

Despite the large pay gaps, these workers earned similar credentials and have had similar levels of experience. Elise Gould, a senior economist at the EPI and one of the authors of the report, said:

To see such a large and economically meaningful gender and racial gap at the start of their careers is troubling to say the least.

The research is the latest evidence that some groups reap a bigger benefit from college than others. Women hold two-thirds of outstanding student debt in the US, in part because they struggle more to repay it. African-American students tend to borrow more to attend college and also struggle more to repay it than their white peers.

It’s possible some of this gap at graduation may be explained by so-called “occupational segregation”, which is the idea that women are more likely to major in and work in fields that pay less. Of course, there is the reality of sexist or racist discrimination on on the job hunt.

Worryingly, the situation is getting worse. The wage gaps between both men and women and black and white young graduates were actually smaller in 2000, according to the EPI.

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