Hispanic representation in the federal workforce increases very slightly

Russel A. Daniels/AP

The percentage of full-time civilian Hispanic employees in the federal government barely increased in fiscal 2011, but there was more significant progress on hiring Hispanics into senior-level jobs, according to new data from the Office of Personnel Management.

Federal agencies employed about 4,000 more Hispanics in fiscal 2011 than in fiscal 2010, and the percentage of Hispanics in the workforce inched up from 8 percent to 8.1 percent during that same period, OPM said in its annual “Report on Hispanic Employment in the Federal Government.” The report is part of the agency’s efforts to comply with an executive order establishing a governmentwide initiative to promote diversity and inclusion in the federal workforce.

Hiring showed a more significant uptick, with the percentage of Hispanic new hires rising from 6.3 percent in fiscal 2010 to 6.7 percent in fiscal 2011. The percentage of Hispanics hired into the Senior Executive Service went from 2.7 percent in fiscal 2010 to 5.4 percent in fiscal 2011, OPM said.

Hispanics, defined in the report as all persons who identify as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish culture of origin, regardless of race, are the third most represented ethnic group in the federal workforce, according to the report. In fiscal 2011, whites made up 66.1 percent of permanent federal employees; blacks represented 18 percent; Asian/Pacific Islanders 5.9 percent; American Indians accounted for 2 percent, and 0.1 percent identified as an “unspecified ethnicity.”

Among 23 large agency and department workforces, 13 increased their percentage of Hispanic employees, five posted declines and eight remained unchanged from the past year. Four of the five agencies that reported percentage declines increased the total number of Hispanics employed.

Hispanic representation in the permanent federal civilian workforce has grown steadily during the past decade, increasing from 6.5 percent in fiscal 2000 to 8.1 percent in fiscal 2011, according to the report.

The Homeland Security Department continued to employ the largest number of Hispanics; nearly 21 percent of its workforce identifies as Hispanic. The Social Security Administration, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Treasury Department posted the next highest percentages at slightly more than 14, 13 and 9 percent, respectively.

OPM Director John Berry established a Hispanic Council on Federal Employment in 2011 to help remove barriers to recruitment, hiring, retention and advancement of Hispanics in the federal workforce. Based on that council’s recommendations, OPM created a “messaging plan” to help raise awareness in the Hispanic community about federal employment opportunities, such as the Pathways Programs and programs for veterans.

“We need to cultivate, foster and develop a workplace that is both diverse and inclusive -- a workplace that sustains that diverse and inclusive culture over time,” Berry said in a statement accompanying the report.

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