The Washington Post

Percentage of minority federal workers up slightly

The federal government employs a higher percentage of minorities when compared with the national workforce but is still employing a smaller percentage of Hispanics, according to a new government study.

The percentage of women in federal offices also dropped slightly year-to-year, according to the annual report on equal opportunity recruitment published Friday by the Office of Personnel Management.

In 2010, the percentage of minority federal workers grew 5 percent in 2010 to 647,588 employees, an increase of about 31,100 workers from the previous year. Minorities represent 33.8 percent of the federal workforce; just under 18 percent are black, 8 percent are Hispanic, 5.6 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, 1.8 percent American Indian/Alaska Native and less than 1 percent are classified as “Non-Hispanic/Multiracial.”

Whites make up 66.2 percent of federal workers, the report said.

“The federal government remains committed to efforts to fully draw on the talents and energies of Americans at all levels of government” OPM Director John Berry said in the report. To that end, he noted that the Obama administration is working to hire new recruits by accelerating the federal hiring process and putting a special emphasis on hiring more military veterans and disabled Americans.

The report said percentage of minority workers nationwide was about four points lower than the federal average last year. The percentage of black, Asian/Pacific Islander and Native American workers was higher among feds than nationwide, but overall the American workforce is more white.

But the widest disparity between the federal and national workforce is still among Hispanics. Their numbers in the federal sector remained flat year-to-year and more than five points below the national average, the report said, despite an astounding 43 percent growth rate of Latinos in the United States in the last decade, according to the 2010 Census.

The study provided no explanation for the lower levels of Hispanics, but said they equaled or exceeded the national civilian labor force representation in just three departments — Labor, Treasury and Homeland Security — and five of 24 smaller departments.

Women represented 43.9 percent of federal workers in 2010, down slightly from 44.2 percent the year before. Overall, the number of female workers nationwide rose one-tenth of a point to 46 percent, according to the report.

But in an encouraging sign, the number of women and minorities at senior pay levels climbed by almost 8 and 10 points, respectively. The report didn’t specify why more women and minorities are earning more, but said it is likely because agencies are transitioning away from performance-based pay systems and placing more workers into senior levels of the General Schedule pay system.

But that transition could be halted by congressional Republicans pushing for a return to performance-based pay systems and with OPM warning agencies last week that step salary increases shouldn’t be automatic.

What do you think of the report’s findings? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.


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