Pay inequities found among city employees, report says

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By Sue Favor

Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES — Even in one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the U.S., pay inequities abound among city employees, a report found last week.

City Controller Ron Galperin’s annual survey of city employee salaries, “Diversity With Equity: Achieving Fairness at the City of Los Angeles,” found that white men were paid more than white women and men of color, while women of color were paid less than everyone else. And though diversity in hiring has increased overall, more is needed in some of the city’s largest departments.

“Los Angeles is a wonderful and diverse city, but it isn’t an equitable one,” Galperin said in a statement. “Structural barriers exist for women, people of color and others in too many neighborhoods — trends that are reflected in our own government.”

The city’s work force is more diverse than it has ever been, as 73% of employees are people of color, with Asian and Black employee numbers exceeding their representation in the population. Eighty-one percent of female city employees are of color, and 31% of those working in the Department of Transportation and World Airports departments are Black.

Two of the largest city employee pools, however — the Fire Department and Building and Safety Department — consist of 46% and 44% white employees, respectively. Most are males.

The report found that white men earned more in every city employee category, while women of color earned the least. In 2020, white city employees earned an average of $53 per hour, while Black and Latino employees made $44.

All of the city’s top 100 earners were men, with the vast majority being white men. Black women earned 25% less than the average gross salary for city employees, while white men earned 21% more than average – a 46% gap.

Even in overtime pay, women and many people of color lag behind, as 70% of extra duty pay went to white and Latino men last year.

The report follows one from last summer that investigated the sizable pay gap between women and men in city ranks. The findings caught the eye of the City Council.

In his summary for the new report, Galperin acknowledged the city’s personnel department for making strides in diversity hiring. He said next steps will have to include extending diversity hiring to higher-level city positions and supporting discrimination and harassment-free work places.

Galperin recommended that the pay gap for employees of color be addressed. He said he planned to provide data to the council and the city’s Racial Equity Task Force in hopes that they will formulate corrective plans of action. He also promoted providing demographic pay information on the city’s website, for the sake of transparency, as well as requiring the Personnel Department to report to the City Council annually with demographic data, as an accountability measure.

“The city needs to do everything in its power to be an example of what fairness and equality should look like,” Galperin said. “People of color — especially women of color — deserve greater opportunities and equitable pay for the critical work that they do.”

Sue Favor is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers, who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at newsroom@wavepublication.com.