Federal government employing more minorities than ever

Tuesday - 6/26/2012, 3:01pm EDT

By Keith BieryGolick
Special to Federal News Radio

Minority employment in the federal workforce continues to grow.

The Office of Personnel Management released its annual report about the federal workforce, finding the number of minorities employed by the government increased by 2.4 percent in fiscal 2011 over the previous year.

The Federal Equal Opportunity Recruitment Program report, submitted to Congress last Friday, stated the number of minorities grew from 647,588 to 662,991 in fiscal 2011.

The report declared, "A workforce that draws from all corners of America — in filling positions from the Senior Executive Service to the entry level — will create a culture that fosters creativity and benefits from a greater return on investments in the workforce."

The report also shows more women and minorities attained professional and administrative positions than last year. The number of women represented in these positions increased by 5.1 percent (from 505,111 to 531,062). The representation rate of minorities in professional and administrative positions rose by 7.4 percent (from 332,934 to 357,468).

As a whole, minorities constitute 34.1 percent of the workforce while women and men make up 43.9 percent and 56.1 percent respectively.

Minorities might be growing in representation, but Hispanic federal employment lags behind the private-sector labor force. In the private sector, Hispanics make up 13.6 percent of all workers. In the federal workforce, that number is just 8.1 percent.

OPM plans to use the Hispanic Council on Federal Employment to combat this disparity and assist with recruitment, hiring, retention and advancement of Hispanics in the workplace, OPM Director John Berry said in the report.

The biggest disparity between the private-sector labor force and the federal workforce, however, comes in the African-American community. The report states African-Americans are better represented than Hispanics, making up 17.8 percent (345,679) of the federal workforce, but only 10.1 percent of the private-sector labor force.

Moving forward

OPM identified three goals in its report that all agencies should strive for in order to tap into America's rich source of diverse talent:

  • Workplace diversity
  • Workplace inclusion
  • Sustainability

In addition, OPM said it is committed to assisting agencies hire individuals with disabilities by implementing Executive Order 13548.

The goal under the Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities order is to hire 100,000 people with disabilities in all job series and at all grade levels within five years. The report indicates initial data shows increased disability hiring in fiscal 2011 (7.26 percent), compared to fiscal 2010 (6.24 percent) and fiscal 2009 (5.6 percent).

"Seeking to attain a diverse, qualified workforce is a cornerstone of the merit- based civil service," the report said. "As the nation's largest employer, the federal government has an obligation to lead by example."

Keith BieryGolick is an intern at Federal News Radio.

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