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

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  • Todd Gardner

Abstract

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
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    File URL: https://www2.census.gov/ces/wp/2013/CES-WP-13-38.pdf
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    Keywords

    local government employment; race; ethnicity;
    All these keywords.

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