U.S. wages of Arab, Muslim men fell after 9/11: study

The earnings of Arab and Muslim men working in the United States dropped about 10 percent in the years following the 9/11 attacks, according to a new study. The drop in wages was most dramatic in areas that reported high rates of hate crimes, according to the study due to be published in the Journal of Human Resources.

The study measured changes in wages of first- and second-generation immigrants, from countries with predominantly Arab or Muslim populations from September 1997 to September 2005. It then compared them to changes in the wages of immigrants with similar skills from other countries.

The average wage was approximately $20 an hour ahead of the attacks in 2001 and dropped by $2 an hour after them, Robert Kaestner, co-author of the study and a University of Illinois at Chicago professor of economics, said on Thursday. That drop persisted through 2004 but showed signs of abating in 2005, he said.

“I was surprised,” Kaestner said. “We see an immediate and significant connection between personal prejudice and economic harm.”

Looking for explanations, the study found a change in the industries where Arab and Muslim men worked, shifting away from higher-paying industries to those that pay less. It also found Arab and Muslim men were 20 percent less likely, after the 9/11 attacks by Islamic extremist hijackers, to move within the state where they lived. That could affect their ability to pursue better paying jobs, Kaestner said.

“I think it’s clear that the impact of anti-Muslim bias is more than just a hate crime or an overt act of discrimination,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington. “I think the study shows that bias and prejudice can have an impact on many levels in the society and many levels within an individual’s life,” he said.

In areas where the rate of hate crimes was above average, wages dropped approximately 12 to 13 percent after 9/11, while in areas with lower-than-average rates, the drop was 6 to 7 percent, Kaestner said.

The study looked at 4,300 Arab and Muslim men, ages 21-54, from the 20 U.S. states where 85 percent of all Arab and Muslim Americans live. It also used hate crime data from the FBI. The study is scheduled to appear in the journal’s spring 2007 edition.

Reuters, 24 August 2006