In 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981, which desegregated the military and ended racial discrimination in its ranks.
Even after the order was signed, of course, the armed forces weren’t integrated expeditiously. Many who have served share the sentiment that the military, along with education, has long been deemed as a social equalizer, with servicemen and women of varied ranks sharing the same spaces on military bases.
The military may also level the playing field when it comes to income.
The Pew Charitable Trusts found seven large counties in the U.S. where black-white income gaps don’t exist — and among them is Hardin County, Kentucky.
In these counties, the black median income surpasses the white median income. Pew looked at counties where the African-American population is at least 5 percent; Hardin County has a black population of nearly 13 percent.
According to the report, the seven counties share the trait of being in close proximity to lucrative government jobs, along with the presence of affordable homes. For Hardin County, the road may very well lead to Ft. Knox.
Elise Gould is a senior economist at Economic Policy Institute. She says government positions do a better job at wage transparency than other sectors.
“Definitely when we think about government jobs in the federal government, for every particular job there may be a particular scale or a salary range,” she says. “So that individuals are placed according to their education and experience at different parts of that scale without regard to gender or race.”
The black median income for Hardin County is just more than $55,000; for whites it’s close to $49,000.