IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Racial and Ethnic Composition of Local Government Employees in Large Metro Areas, 1960-2010


  • Todd Gardner


This study uses census microdata from 1960 to 2010 to look at how the racial and ethnic composition of local government employees has reflected the diversity of the general population in the 100 largest metro areas over the last half century. Historically, one route to upward social mobility has been employment in local government. This study uses microdata that predates key immigration and civil rights legislation of the 1960s through to the present to examine changes in the racial and ethnic composition of local government employees and in the general population. For this study, local government employees have been divided into high- and low-wage occupations. These data indicate that local workforces have grown more diverse over time, though representation across different racial and ethnic groups and geographic areas is uneven. African-Americans were underrepresented in high-wage local government employment and overrepresented in low-wage jobs in the early years of this study, particularly in the South, but have since become proportionally represented in high-wage jobs on a national level. In contrast, the most recent data indicate that Hispanic and other races are underrepresented in this employment group, particularly in the West. Though the numbers of Hispanic and Asian high-wage local government employees are increasing, it appears that it will take several years for those groups to achieve proportional representation throughout the United States.

Suggested Citation

  • Todd Gardner, 2013. "The Racial and Ethnic Composition of Local Government Employees in Large Metro Areas, 1960-2010," Working Papers 13-38, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:13-38

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2013
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Shadbegian Ronald J & Gray Wayne B, 2003. "What Determines Environmental Performance at Paper Mills? The Roles of Abatement Spending, Regulation, and Efficiency," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-20, November.
    2. Laplante, Benoit & Rilstone, Paul, 1996. "Environmental Inspections and Emissions of the Pulp and Paper Industry in Quebec," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 19-36, July.
    3. Berman, Eli & Bui, Linda T. M., 2001. "Environmental regulation and labor demand: evidence from the South Coast Air Basin," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 265-295, February.
    4. Shadbegian, Ronald J. & Gray, Wayne B., 2005. "Pollution abatement expenditures and plant-level productivity: A production function approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2-3), pages 196-208, August.
    5. Ronald Shadbegian & Wayne Gray, 2006. "Assessing multi-dimensional performance: environmental and economic outcomes," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 213-234, December.
    6. Magat, Wesley A & Viscusi, W Kip, 1990. "Effectiveness of the EPA's Regulatory Enforcement: The Case of Industrial Effluent Standards," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 331-360, October.
    7. Gray, Wayne B. & Shadbegian, Ronald J., 2003. "Plant vintage, technology, and environmental regulation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 384-402, November.
    8. W. Reed Walker, 2011. "Environmental Regulation and Labor Reallocation: Evidence from the Clean Air Act," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 442-447, May.
    9. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    10. Morgenstern, Richard D. & Pizer, William A. & Shih, Jhih-Shyang, 2002. "Jobs Versus the Environment: An Industry-Level Perspective," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 412-436, May.
    11. Boyd, Gale A. & McClelland, John D., 1999. "The Impact of Environmental Constraints on Productivity Improvement in Integrated Paper Plants," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 121-142, September.
    12. Eli Berman & Linda T. M. Bui, 2001. "Environmental Regulation And Productivity: Evidence From Oil Refineries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(3), pages 498-510, August.
    13. Michael Greenstone, 2002. "The Impacts of Environmental Regulations on Industrial Activity: Evidence from the 1970 and 1977 Clean Air Act Amendments and the Census of Manufactures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1175-1219, December.
    14. Gray, Wayne B & Shadbegian, Ronald J, 1998. "Environmental Regulation, Investment Timing, and Technology Choice," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(2), pages 235-256, June.
    15. Fare, R. & Grosskopf, S. & Pasurka, C., 1986. "Effects on relative efficiency in electric power generation due to environmental controls," Resources and Energy, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 167-184, June.
    16. Karikallio, Hanna & Mäki-Fränti, Petri & Suhonen, Niko, 2011. "Competition in the global pulp and paper industries - An evaluation based on three approaches," Journal of Forest Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 91-104, January.
    17. Cole Matthew A & Elliott Rob J, 2007. "Do Environmental Regulations Cost Jobs? An Industry-Level Analysis of the UK," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-27, June.
    18. Ron S Jarmin & Javier Miranda, 2002. "The Longitudinal Business Database," Working Papers 02-17, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    local government employment; race; ethnicity;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:13-38. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Erica Coates). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.