Percentage of Hispanic feds stays flat
The percentage of Latinos in the federal workforce stayed flat in 2009 compared with the previous year, and the total number of Hispanic hires dropped, according to an annual government report.
Hispanics accounted for 8 percent of federal workers in the year that ended June 30, 2009, five points lower than the 13.2 percent of Latinos employed across the country's civilian workforce, according to the Office of Personnel Management. The percentage of new Hispanic hires dropped to 7.3 percent, down two percentage points from 2008.
But the overall number of Latinos in the government increased to 144,288, up from 137,767 in June 2008. The overall percentage remained flat because the government made other hires and retained a high number of Hispanics, OPM said.
The departments of Homeland Security, Treasury and Veterans Affairs accounted for two-thirds of the new Hispanic hires, the report said. DHS and its 23 components generally hire a larger number of Hispanics and U.S. Customs and Border Protection has a higher percentage of Latinos than any other agency. Ten of the 23 major federal agencies increased their percentage of Hispanic staffers as of June 2009, while seven posted declines and six remained flat, the report said.
Hispanics made up 3.2 percent of the Senior Executive Service, up from 2 percent in 2008. The number of permanent hires in higher levels of the General Schedule also jumped 22 percent, the report said.
But National Council of La Raza President Janet Murguia -- a former Clinton administration official -- called the findings "unbelievable."
"At a time when Latinos are the fastest-growing segment of the labor force, the rate of federal Hispanic hiring is actually going down,” Murguia said in a statement. “That the numbers are going in the wrong direction is evidence of a deep, systemic failure.”
In a letter to President Obama accompanying the report, OPM Director John Berry said that "there is room for improvement," and noted that Obama has appointed a higher number of Hispanics to political positions than previous administrations. But the report acknowledged that "the federal government is not fully tapping the talent in the Hispanic community for public service."
OPM has established three offices to recruit and retain more Hispanic workers, with one focused on promoting Latinos into the Senior Executive Service and another targeting potential college recruits, the report said.
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