With the graduation season looming, Black Americans are among college graduates who could likely be soon entering the nation’s workforce.
Still, they could be facing an unpleasant reality when it comes to the lucrative amount of money they hope to earn as they take on their first career job.
According to the 2022 Data: College Students Overestimate Starting Salary by $50,000 study, it was reported the average starting salary for recent graduates is $55,260.
However, Black respondents expected an average annual salary of $104,810. That’s just a tad more than the expected comparable salary of White respondents of $103,820. That means the salary expectation now by graduates is roughly doubled — by a whopping nearly $50,000.
The online study by Real Estate Witch consisted of 1,000 people who identified as college students pursuing a bachelor’s degree surveyed in March 2022. To gain insight on their salary expectations, they were asked several questions ranging from their financial situation to the job market. Of those surveyed, 185 self-identified as Black.
Upcoming graduates will enter a job market rebounding quickly from the COVID-19 pandemic. “Job openings hover near record highs, and desperate employers are raising pay to entice top talent amid ongoing labor shortages,” per the study.
It was not precisely pinpointed why graduates have such a bullish pay outlook. The fresh study suggested a stronger economy possibly spurred unrealistic salary expectations that may leave students “disappointed.” It indicated that “students graduating in 2022 have a strong job market awaiting them, with employers planning to hire nearly 27% more graduates” from this year’s class versus those in 2021.
Other findings revealed of students with jobs set up after graduation, just 51% are pleased with their starting salaries. Some 31% doubt they will make enough to live cozy after graduation. And 43% will graduate with at least $30,000 or over in student debt, 29% graduating with $50,000 or more.
Jamie Seale, the study’s author, says the slight difference in salary expectations is possible because Black respondents are graduating with higher-paying degrees. “Our data shows a higher proportion of Black students than the average majored in finance/accounting, and that major has above-average salary expectations at the one-year mark.”
Yet, she disclosed that black respondents expected a mid-career salary 0.5% below the overall respondent average of $200,270. White respondents expected a mid-career salary 1.2% above that average. “Black workers are underrepresented in senior roles, which could be why they expect lower salaries by mid-career.”
So, what is the downside for Black graduates if their salary expectations are not met, and is there anything they can do about it?
Seale says Black college graduates owe, on average, $25,000 more in student loan debt than white college graduates. “If their starting salaries don’t meet expectations, it may prolong the amount of time it takes to repay their student loans.” She added black respondents could try negotiating for a higher salary or refuse the offer and keep looking for a higher-paying job.