Boston workforce breakdown reveals imbalances

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BOSTON – Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a Democrat and a former labor leader, presides over a workforce where a lopsided portion of the jobs are held by whites and the median pay for women is 20 percent less than for men, data released Tuesday show.

The demographic breakdown of the municipal workforce was meant to provide a benchmark for Walsh’s efforts to diversify the ranks of city employees, who number almost 20,000, according to a statement from the mayor’s office. The “diversity dashboard” unveiled Tuesday was “built to support the city’s efforts of creating a more inclusive and diverse workforce,” according to the statement.

Almost 54 percent of the workforce is female, the data show. But the median wage paid to women is $58,712 while for men it’s 25 percent higher at $73,385.

Whites comprise almost 54 percent of the city’s 19,798-strong workforce, or more than the proportion of non-Hispanic white residents in the city, listed as 47 percent in 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data. Blacks make up about 29 percent of the workforce, or more than the 24 percent of residents in 2010 who were counted as African-American.

Asian-Americans and Hispanics are the most underrepresented on the municipal payroll, with about 12 percent of the workforce listed as Latino and 4.2 percent described as Asian. By comparison, Census data listed more than 17 percent of the city’s residents as Hispanic in 2010, and 8.9 percent were recorded as Asian by Census takers that year.

Blacks and Hispanics hold more of the lowest-paying city jobs than white or Asian workers, the data show. While women hold more than half of the highest-paid positions, at about 53 percent of those with annual salaries above $100,000, men hold more of the jobs in the two much larger tiers that are paid between $60,000 and $100,000.

The city has almost 2,500 workers who make more than $100,000 a year, or roughly 12 percent of the municipal workforce, including the 25 percent listed as temporary employees. More than half of all city workers are paid more than $60,000 a year.

“This dashboard will help us meet our goal of creating a workforce that is representative of Boston,” Walsh said in the statement. “I am proud of our work so far to use data to create a stronger city government, and our diversity dashboard is another tool to help us identify opportunities for improvement.”

While it shows how long workers have been on the payroll by demographic categories such as race and gender, it doesn’t include a breakdown of the workforce by age, ethnic group such as Irish-American or Italian-American, or by “gender identity.” Census data show that 10 percent of the city’s population was 65 or older in 2010, while 52 percent were women.

“I am working with all of our city department heads as well as the community to implement our city’s diversity goals and objectives,” said Danielson Tavares, Boston’s chief diversity officer. “Our diversity dashboard will allow us to more clearly review where we need to work to improve.”