Despite downsizing, women, minorities gain top jobs

Despite downsizing, women, minorities gain top jobs

The continued downsizing of the federal government has not affected the upward mobility of minorities and women, according to the Office of Personnel Management's annual report to Congress on the Federal Equal Opportunity Recruitment Program.

While total employment in the executive branch decreased by 3.3 percent from September 1996 to September 1997, the percentage of African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian/Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and women at senior pay levels and the upper grades of the General Schedule increased.

"The report indicates that despite a shrinking of the federal workforce, we have not only protected the gains in diversity, but improved the representation of qualified minorities in the higher ranks of the federal labor force," OPM Director Janice Lachance said.

Overall employment in the GS 9-12 ranks decreased by 3.1 percent from 1996 to 1997, but minority representation increased at those levels from 24.8 percent in 1996 to 25.4 percent in 1997. The number of minorities at the GS 13-15 levels rose by 2,227 from 1996 to 1997, an increase of 4.4 percent. Minority representation at senior pay levels rose by 7.6 percent during the same time period, while the overall federal workforce at senior pay levels increased only 2.2 percent.

African American representation at senior pay levels rose from 6.3 percent in 1996 to 6.5 percent in 1997. African Americans rose from 8 percent of employees at the GS 13-15 levels in 1996 to 8.3 percent in 1997, according to the report.

Hispanic representation also increased at the senior levels, rising from 2.4 percent to 2.6 percent, and at the GS 13-15 levels, from 3.4 percent to 3.6 percent. Asian/Pacific Islanders represented 1.9 percent of the senior pay levels in 1997, up from 1.7 percent in 1996.

Native Americans represented 0.6 percent of employees at senior pay levels in 1996, compared to 0.7 percent in 1997, while their representation in the GS 13-15 levels remained the same. The representation of women at senior pay levels increased from 19.9 percent to 20.9 percent.

According to the report, Hispanics and women are the only groups that are underrepresented in the federal workforce. Hispanics make up 11 percent of the civilian labor force, while they represent only 6.2 percent of the federal workforce. Women represent 46.4 percent of the civilian labor force and 42.8 percent of the federal labor force.

OPM has launched a nine-point Hispanic employment initiative to encourage federal agencies to improve the representation of Hispanics. The agency has also issued a guide to recruiting and retaining women in the workforce.

NEXT STORY: Budgets in brief for key agencies