NY City Council Report: Blacks And Women Suffer Paycheck Discrimination In Municipal Jobs

Analysis finds Black women make nearly 2 percent less than white men in the same position within the City workforce
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Photos: NYC Council\YouTube

City Hall, NY – Today the Council released a report on pay disparities within the New York City municipal workforce, analyzing data made available by a law the Council passed in 2019 and which shows the median salary for men is $21,600 higher than for women. There are also racial gaps: The median salary for a white employee is $27,800 higher than a Black employee’s salary and $22,200 higher than the pay for a Hispanic/Latino employee.

The findings show these inequities persist primarily in the form of occupational segregation, which is the over- or under-representation of certain demographic groups in certain occupations, and contributes to pay gaps across the City’s workforce. The full report from the Council’s Data Operations Unit can be found here.

White men tend to hold higher ranking and therefore higher paying positions, while women and people of color are often siloed in lower paying positions, according to the Council’s analysis. Still, according to a model that accounts for job titles and other employee qualifications, Black women make 1.9% less than white men, the report found.

The Pay Equity Law, or Local Law 18, which was sponsored by Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo and Council Member I. Daneek Miller, required the city to provide the Council access to pay data based on race, ethnicity, gender, and other protected classes among employees of the City of New York in all agencies headed by a mayoral appointee. The Council’s Data Operations Unit analyzed employee information from 2018 provided by the de Blasio Administration to understand any existing pay disparities related to these protected categories.

In response to the findings, the Council presents the following recommendations to improve pay equity and help end occupational segregation in City agencies:

  • Update Local Law 18 to require additional data that will improve the Council’s ability to analyze the data in future reports.
  • Require agencies to collect and report on the gender and race of civil service exam applicants and acceptance and graduation statistics from agency training programs
  • Require analysis of job postings and recruitment material for biases
  • Expand the existing law that requires the DOE and DCAS to make high school students aware of civil service opportunities
  • Require agencies to perform outreach to local communities regarding civil service opportunities
  • Require agencies to perform internal pay equity analyses and adjust salaries as necessary to achieve pay equity
  • Conduct comparable worth analyses of jobs primarily held by women/non-white workers
  • Conduct interagency analyses for majority women/non-white agencies

“Sadly, this report proves what we already speculated about pay disparities among city workers, but now we have concrete data to work with in identifying the main problems and appropriate recommendations,” said Speaker Corey Johnson. “We now must focus on solutions to eliminate barriers that keep women and people of color from having access to higher positions in City agencies. I’m so proud of this Council for holding City agencies accountable for pay inequities that have gone on for far too long and I’m confident that this first report and the annual reports to follow will lead to much needed improvements in our municipal hiring processes.”

“The findings in this report hint at the true facts about employment discrimination and pay disparity, a quite familiar topic for many of us who deal with it on a regular basis,” said Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo. “It shows clear, across-the-board discrimination of occupations that have a predominantly Black and brown workforce. It is also incredible to see and verify that the ‘glass ceiling’ of executive management exists for people of color across the entire city workforce. I hope this annual report is expanded and included in future budget discussions so we can make sure those who make the city run are paid a fair wage. Thanks to Speaker Johnson, the Council’s Data Operations Unit, and the Women’s Caucus for their cooperative efforts in publishing this report."

"Economic justice in our city starts with ensuring that all New Yorkers regardless of their race or gender are paid fair wages for their work,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson and Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus. “Our municipal workers are on the front lines every day to keep our city moving and it is imperative we take action to ensure we address the issues preventing them from receiving the pay that they deserve. I want to thank Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, Council Member I. Daneek Miller, CWA, and all the advocates that pushed for Local Law 18. I look forward to our continued work together fighting for pay equity.”

“Even in a City as diverse as ours, pay inequity continues to permeate our municipal workforce. The resulting data from our landmark Pay Equity Law shows definitively the impact of institutional racism and unconscious bias in how work is valued, as titles dominated by women and men of color are valued less than their white counterparts doing similar work. As we prepare to observe Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, we recommit ourselves to going even further to uncover and eradicate the contributing factors to pay inequity in New York City,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Co-Chair of the Council’s Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus.

“The Pay Equity in New York City report illustrates how ingrained racial and gender pay disparities are within our municipal workforce who were essential to keeping our city operational throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As we commemorate Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, we must accelerate our efforts to close the wage gap that perpetuates poverty in households throughout the five boroughs. The Women’s Caucus, in partnership with advocates like CWA 1180 and PowHerNY, will continue to champion equal pay for equal work – for women everywhere,” said Council Member Farah N. Louis, Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus.

“Black Women’s Equal Pay Day spotlights historic and persistent wage inequality, which is sadly confirmed by today’s release of NYC workforce data. Fixing this injustice cannot happen too soon. PowHer New York’s campaign, which has led the fight for equal pay for over a decade, commends the NYC Council for its comprehensive recommendations to address the gap in wages and opportunities women and people of color experience as NYC employees. Additionally, advocates call for the establishment of a Pay Equity Taskforce to ensure ongoing scrutiny of the remedial public sector steps and engage the private sector in the goal of economic equity for all New Yorkers,” said Beverly Neufeld and Rebecca Damon, of PowHer New York.

“For years, we’ve sounded the alarm on the race and gender pay gap that exists among our city workers. The release of today’s report shows what we already knew; we have a long way to go towards 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. I thank Speaker Corey Johnson and Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, as well as the members of the Women’s Caucus, for their commitment to making Local Law 18 a reality and their hard work to make this data public, said Gloria Middleton, President of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1180.

“I’m honored and humbled to join my Women’s Caucus colleagues in celebrating the release of the Pay Equity in New York City report, illustrating data collected pursuant to Local Law 18 of 2019,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera. “As we commemorate Black Women’s Equal Pay Day tomorrow, my hope is that we do so emboldened by the information this report uncovers to renew our fight to ensure equal pay for equal work for all New Yorkers.”

“On Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, we are renewing our efforts and commitment to achieve pay parity and eliminate harmful inequities that exist in our workforce,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams. “The release of the Pay Equity in NYC Report is an important milestone to highlight the pay disparities among city employees. I am hopeful that we will use this analysis to take meaningful action and continue to advocate for equal pay for equal work.”

“Even in one of the most progressive cities in the country, the data clearly shows that race and gender play a significant role in the types of positions held by municipal workers — which of course impacts their salary levels. Black women are consistently under-represented in better paid City positions, and we see this across the private sector as well. The City of New York can and should lead by example — acknowledging the issue and announcing clear steps to start to address structural inequities within its own workforce,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal (Manhattan, District 6).

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