Only 12% of Worcester City Employees Are Minorities
Monday, March 11, 2013
According to a report from Acting Assistant Human Resource Director Dori Vecchio, just 12 percent of Worcester's 1,722 employees are minorities.
That figure stands in stark contrast to citywide demographics, where roughly 40 percent of Worcester residents were minorities as of the 2010 U.S. Census.
"There is a clear understanding and commitment by all city departments to recruit a workforce that is reflective of the City's demographic population," Vecchio said in a report to the City Council. "Our office works diligently on minority outreach and recruitment, with proven results as seen in our continual upward trend of the minority hiring statistics, especially in categories of positions where there are no hiring restrictions."
In Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12), out of the 42 non-civil service employees the City of Worcester hired, 10 positions, or 24 percent, went to minority candidates. However, the 42 positions hired in FY12 represent only 2.5 percent of the City's total workforce, which has decreased in size by 200 positions over the past few years.
Civil service regulations pose barrier
One major obstacle for the City has been civil service rules and regulations, which effect 1,292 positions, or 75 percent of Worcester's public workforce. According to Vecchio, "Appointments and promotions to official civil service classifications are subject to state law, where appointments are made from an established list as a result of open competitive examination or departmental promotional examination."
For civil service positions that do not require an examination, appointments are made based on registration number, veterans' preference and job requirements.
However, Worcester has still made progress in increasing the number of minorities in its ranks despite the difficulties presented by civil service regulations. The percentage of minorities in the City's workforce has increased from 10 percent in 2008 to 11 percent in 2010, and now to 12 percent in 2012. The 24 percent minority hiring in FY12 aided in the effort.
On a departmental basis, Worcester's Treasury boasted the greatest minority representation, with 8 out of 26 employees, or 31 percent. The City Manager's office was second with 25 percent, or three out of 12 employees identifying as minorities. With eight of 36 employees identify as minorities, the Workforce Development department came in third.
"My Administration continues its commitment to recruit a workforce that is reflective of the City's demographic population," said City Manager Michael O'Brien.
"Layoffs, position elimination, and downsizing have decimated our employee ranks," O'Brien said, noting that the City's payroll has decreased by 200 positions over the past few years. "Under these strained economic conditions, the ability to hire employees and therefore have any ability to substantially improve these demographics to reflect our community has been severely hindered.
"We will remain steadfast in our efforts to attract and retain a diverse workforce through outreach to Worcester candidates for all categories of City positions while adhering to the applicable governing rules and living within our fiscal constraints."
Councilor-At-Large Joseph O'Brien touched on a similar issue at a recent City Council meeting when he encouraged increased diversity among Worcester's future police recruit classes to better reflect the makeup of the City's population.
An increasingly diverse community
As Worcester works to increase the number of minority public employees, the task seems poised to become even more daunting in the future.
A recent report from the Worcester Regional Research Bureau found that minorities are the driving force of population growth in the Commonwealth's second-largest city.
Between the 2000 Census and the 2010 Census, Worcester's African American population increased by 77 percent during the first decade of the 21st Century. During the same period, the Latino population grew by 45 percent and the Asian population grew by 31 percent as well.
Meanwhile, the number of residents identifying as white decreased by more than 5 percent, even as the city's overall population grew by almost 5 percent to 181,045.
Since bottoming out in 1980, Worcester's population has grown by nearly 20,000 residents, an increase of almost 12 percent over three decades.
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