The numbers for the state, Boston show improvement

The minority hiring records of the state of Massachusetts and the city of Boston are both relatively good

The minority hiring records of the state of Massachusetts and the city of Boston are both relatively good, a sharp contrast to most companies in the private sector.

State records for fiscal 2012 indicate that nearly a quarter of the 44,445 executive branch employees are minorities, three times the percentage in 1983 when the Globe ran its series on racial hiring. The minority share of 24.6 percent under Gov. Deval Patrick is less than two points higher than it was in 2006, former Gov. Mitt Romney’s last year in office.

Patrick administration officials say the overall minority numbers didn’t increase dramatically from Romney to Patrick, but big changes did occur in the ranks of top managers, where the minority percentage has risen from 11 percent to 16 percent.

Sandra Borders, director of the state Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, says the increase in managers was a priority of the governor. “If you’re sending a message that we’re a welcoming and open environment and we really want you to come work for us, people will take you up on that,” she says. “Is that the message that corporate America sends most days? I don’t think so, having worked there.”

Of the city of Boston’s nearly 20,000 municipal workers, 48 percent are minorities, with 30 percent black, 13 percent Hispanic, and 5 percent Asian. The Globe reported in 1983 that the city’s workforce was 18 percent black.

The city numbers overall for minorities are strong, but salary data covering a large chunk of city workers indicate there is a big pay disparity between whites and minorities, suggesting whites tend to have higher-paying jobs. The data indicate the average earnings of whites is $60,822, compared to $37,257 for blacks, $35,729 for Hispanics, and $33,532 for Asians. Men, on average, earn $55,367, compared to $38,038 for women. (The salary data cover roughly half of the municipal workforce and exclude school workers and officials at the Boston Redevelopment Authority.)

Mayor Thomas Menino’s spokeswoman, Dot Joyce, said the pay disparity may be explained partly by generally higher salaries paid to police and fire employees, who tend to be mostly white.

There is also a disconnect between the minority composition of students in the Boston schools and the teachers who teach them. According to state records, the minority makeup of the city’s school children is nearly 36 percent black, 40 percent Hispanic, 13 percent white, and 9 percent Asian. By contrast, city records indicate their teachers are 63 percent white, 21 percent black, 10 percent Hispanic, and 5 percent Asian.

Two state agencies, Energy and Environmental Affairs and Public Safety and Security, lag in minority hiring relative to the rest of state government. The employees of the two agencies are 11 percent and 13 percent minority, respectively. Officials say minority hiring in the energy agency lags other state agencies because many of the employees are in science and engineering fields, where women and minorities tend to have a low presence.

James Rooney, the head of the Massachusetts Con¬ven¬tion Center Authority, says it’s often hard to fill government jobs with minorities because the highly qualified candidates can usually land bigger paychecks elsewhere. He recently had an opening for a job paying about $150,000 a year. He says he reached out to three people of color for minority referrals and they all came back with white candidates. He says the job ended up going to a white person, largely because a highly qualified minority candidate could command a much bigger salary elsewhere.

Ronald Marlow, the state’s assistant secretary of access and opportunity, a position created by Patrick, says the governor has tried to lead by example on the hiring front. For example, Patrick has made 159 judicial appointments since taking office in 2007, with 28, or 18 percent of them, going to minorities. He also nominated Roderick Ireland as the state’s first black Supreme Judicial Court chief justice.

Patrick has also dramatically increased the number of minorities in his own office. The office staff of about 50 employees was 5.1 percent minority under Romney and grew to 28 percent minority under Patrick. The percentage of black employees grew from 3 percent under Romney to 15 percent under Patrick.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Meet the Author
“He sets the tone,” says Marlow of the governor.

Jack Sullivan contributed to this report.