African Americans in rural areas lived by farming.
In the cities, the most common jobs were carpenters, janitors, drivers, stonemasons, barbers, and cooks. Farm workers earned an average of $60 per year. Carpenters earned $.75 to $1.25 an hour. Cooks averaged $5 a month in 1902.
Black businesses that became successful were in fields in which white businesses did not want to, or could not, serve black customers. These included insurance, undertaking, beauty culture, and banking.
By 1914, blacks had established some fifty banks.