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Drastic pay inequities persist for Black and Latino NYC workers, especially women

Black city workers make on average 71 cents for every dollar their white counterparts make. Latinos make 75 cents.
A worker walks along a platform of the New York City subway on June 3, 2021 in New York City.
A worker walks along a platform of the New York City subway on June 3, 2021 in New York City.Spencer Platt / Getty Images

A new pay equity report from the New York City Council shows “persistent, large pay gaps” in the city’s municipal workforce, particularly among Black, Latino and white employees — a divide that gets worse when comparing men and women workers. 

Black city employees make just 71 cents on average for every dollar made by their white counterparts, according to the report, which was released Thursday. Latinos make just 75 cents for every dollar and Asian employees make 81 cents.

For Black women and Latinas, the gap is even larger, dropping to 69 cents for every dollar made by white male employees. On the whole, female city employees make 73 cents for every male dollar. 

This dynamic illustrates what the report calls an “occupational segregation” of nonwhite and female employees who often hold more junior positions with lower pay than their white male counterparts in the municipal workforce. 

New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said in a press release that although the council has long been aware that pay disparities exist along racial and gender lines, the council now has unprecedented diversity among its members after major turnover following elections in 2021. That diversity, she implied, could lead to more willingness to fix longstanding wage gaps. 

“As the most diverse and first women-majority council, we will not rest until all New York City workers are valued equally with job salaries and opportunities for their contributions to our city regardless of gender or race,” Adams said. 

The council held an oversight hearing Thursday on proposed legislation that would require city agencies to analyze their wage data through a diversity lens. Among other changes, the laws would require agencies to come up with ways to work toward solving occupational segregation while expanding what counts as an agency to capture a fuller picture of pay disparities among a greater number of workers.

The effort stems from recommendations drawn in the wake of last year’s pay equity report — which arrived largely to the same conclusions as the one released this week. Pay equity reports are mandated by a New York City law passed in 2019 that aimed to “find and eliminate” wage gaps in public employment.

The council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus also announced new legislation this week to diversify the workforce in the New York City Fire Department and confront what it called the department’s “exclusionary practices that undermine diversity.” The bill also requires the FDNY to be more transparent about its current demographics. 

Effectively solving the disparities “begins with data,” council member Carmen De La Rosa, chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, said in a press release. 

“Despite the great strides and attempts to mitigate the gap, the second round of findings demonstrates that disparities remain,” she said. 

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