NYC Council Report Finds Wide Pay Gaps by Sex & Race Among City Workers

NEW YORK, N.Y.—Male New York City municipal employees have a median salary $21,600 higher than women, according to a report on pay equity the City Council issued August 2, while white workers average $27,800 more than black workers and $22,200 more than Latinos.

The report, based on data from 2018 compiled under the Pay Equity Act of 2019, said the inequality came mainly in the form of occupational segregation, with white men more likely to work in higher-paying occupations. 

“The civil service titles with the lowest median salaries have a larger proportion of female and non-white employees,” it said. “The civil service titles with the highest median salaries have a smaller proportion of female and non-white employees.” 

The differences by race and sex were much smaller among workers with comparable job titles and qualifications. In that situation, the report said, black women made 98.1% as much as white men.

The data, however, did not include the Department of Education’s pedagogical employees, such as teachers, counselors, and principals, who made up about 82,000 of the city’s almost 300,000 employees in 2018.

Overall, the report said, male city employees had a median salary of $79,000 a year, compared to $57,400 for women. White people, 35% of the municipal workforce, had a median of $85,300, while black people, 18% of the workforce, averaged $57,500; Latinos $63,100; and Asians $70,600.

The Fire Department had the highest proportion of white employees of any city agency, at 57%, while the Human Resources Administration had the highest concentration of black workers, at 53%. “The median salary at FDNY is $85,292, while the median salary at HRA is $48,417,” the report noted.

The five most populous job titles that were almost exclusively female — public health nurse, early childhood education consultant, social work Supervisor I, Department for the Aging program officer, and Department of Education supervising therapist — all had median salaries of around $52,000. The five that were almost exclusively male — auto mechanic, electrician, sewage treatment worker, and fire captain and battalion chief — ranged from $70,365 to $92,510.

In the Police Department, one of the agencies with the widest gaps between men and women, only one job that paid more than $100,000 a year, executive agency counsel, was more than 25% women. The three lowest-paying jobs, city custodial assistant, school crossing guard, and fingerprint technician trainee, were all at least 65% women.

Women were 40% of full-time city employees, but 70% of part-time workers. In the three lowest-paying part-time titles, job training participants, school crossing guards, and school lunch aides, more than 60% of the workers were black or Latino.

The report said that as the proportion of nonwhite employees in a specific title increases, “there is a marked and nearly linear decline in wages.” Positions that had less than 10% nonwhite employees had a median salary of $125,500. The median was $97,300 for titles where slightly more than half the workers were nonwhite, and fell to $47,400 for those more than 90% nonwhite.

“For years, we’ve sounded the alarm on the race and gender pay gap that exists among our city workers,” Communications Workers of America Local 1180 President Gloria Middleton said in a statement. “The release of today’s report shows what we already knew, we have a long way to go toward truly achieving pay equity in New York City. But it also gives us the data necessary to solve that problem, and ensure that we can work towards fairer wages for city workers.” 

Local 1180, which represents about 8,500 administrative and supervisory employees at city agencies, won an out-of-court settlement with the city in 2017 that put women who were making $55,000 on a path to parity with men who had been getting $90,000 for the same job. The women, then-Local 1180 president Arthur Cheliotes told LaborPress that year, had been held back by the Koch administration filling higher-level posts with provisional appointees instead of promoting them, and when they finally moved up, the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations “depressed their wages.”

The Council report’s recommendations include collecting additional data, such as the gender and race of civil-service exam applicants and people accepted into and graduating from agency training programs; expanding the law that requires the Department of Education and the Department of City Administrative Services to make high-school students aware of civil-service opportunities; and conducting comparable-worth analyses of jobs primarily held by women and/or nonwhite workers.

For example, it said, the Administration for Children’s Services, which has a high proportion of black female employees, has a significantly lower median salary than other agencies.

And labor unions, it added, “give employees the ability to collectively demand rights in a more effective manner than individual employees could achieve, and arguably help prevent the exploitation of employees.”

“This report makes clear we must look past pattern bargaining to address the institutional pay inequities that exist in city government,” District Council 37 director of communications Freddi Goldstein told LaborPress. “In our last round of bargaining, DC 37 negotiated a pay equity fund in order to address some of the issues for our members. While that was an encouraging step in the right direction, there is clearly more work to be done.”



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