Opinion

Latinos get the shaft again in Bill de Blasio’s three cities

By Eddie Borges |  

October 12, 2017 |  

(Diana Robinson / Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio)

As Mayor Bill de Blasio gets set to cruise to re-election in November, buoyed by significant Latino support, Latinos still can’t get a foot in the door of city government, according to the second biannual workforce report the de Blasio administration filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on September 30.

But this last report should certainly put a damper on the mayor’s quixotic ambition to become the Democratic Party’s progressive torchbearer, as it shows a continuing City Hall bias against hiring Latinos and promoting them to lead agencies. 

Political analysts universally agree on one thing: growing and winning the Latino vote is critical for the Democratic Party to win back the presidency in 2020. With this in mind, the DNC elected Tom Perez, a Dominican born in Buffalo, as party chairman in February.

The largest share of New York City’s population today is white: one-third. Latinos are a close runner-up, comprising 29 percent of the population. In New York, we are (mostly) Puerto Rican, Dominican and Mexican. Latinos are likely to become the majority in the city in this century. Latinos already make up a plurality of children under 18 in the city. 

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It is too early to measure the impact the ongoing Puerto Rican exodus from the island will have on population patterns in the metropolitan region in the near and far future. The first migration of Puerto Ricans to New York, which established a Latino foothold in the region that attracted other groups, migrated here following a devastating hurricane in 1928. They are American citizens and unlike Latino immigrants, will immediately have the right to vote.

That said, Latinos are the poorest segment of the city’s population. More than half of the city’s Latino children live below the federal poverty line. They are very likely to grow up to be poor adults. 

The traditional path out of intergenerational, concentrated poverty is steady employment. By the sheer numbers, one would think Latinos would be doing much better getting jobs with the largest employer in the five boroughs: New York City.

Yet, in 2017, only 20 percent of new hires by the city of New York under de Blasio were Latino, according to the EEO-4 Report filed by the city Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

This is the second EEO-4 Report filed by the de Blasio administration. The first covered his first citywide fiscal year running from July 2014 to June 2015. This report covers the 2017 fiscal year. 

The percentage of new hires in both reports remain pretty much the same.

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Latino hiring remained flat at 20 percent. The number of white hires declined slightly from 28 percent to 27 percent. The largest number of new city hires under de Blasio continues to be African-Americans at 41 percent, a two-point decline from the 2015 report. African-Americans comprise 25 percent of the city’s population and African-American voters are a significant part of de Blasio’s base of support. The most recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 82 percent of black New Yorkers approve of de Blasio’s job performance, by far the highest of any ethnic demographic, with Latinos the second-highest at 59 percent. 

Not only is it extremely difficult for Latinos to land a job in de Blasio’s City Hall, it is even more challenging for a Puerto Rican, Dominican or Mexican to become an agency head.

Only 14 percent of de Blasio agency administrators and officials are Latino. This is 16 percent less than our representation in the general population. Nearly 60 percent of de Blasio’s agency administrators and officials are white, or twice their representation in the population. Twenty percent of de Blasio agency administrators and officials are African-American. This is five percent less than their representation in the general population.

In an emailed statement, Freddi Goldstein, a spokeswoman for the mayor noted the overall relative diversity of the city workforce, as well as administration's increased efforts in recruiting city workers in underserved communities.

"This administration knows workforce diversity is crucial, which is why two years ago we established an Office of Citywide Recruitment to help with outreach to underserved communities; and in 2017, we saw the minority share of the workforce skyrocket to 73 percent," Goldstein wrote. "There is always room to do more, but under Mayor de Blasio we're seeing the most diverse workforce on city record." 

These hiring and promotions patterns and practices are were similar to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration. But Bloomberg did not present himself as a progressive.

Bill de Blasio ran on a campaign against “Two Cities.” He promised to change discriminatory practices that hurt minorities and the poor. The numbers don’t lie: under de Blasio the poorest minority in the city continues to get the shaft. 

It’s going to be extremely difficult for the mayor to run around as a progressive candidate for the presidency or any future office if he runs City Hall like an exclusive club that doesn’t allow the city’s poorest citizens at the table.

Eddie Borges writes about the politics of poverty.

This post has been updated with a statement from the Mayor's Office. 

Correction: A previous version of this article mischaracterized the number of Latino children in New York City. Latinos make up a plurality of children under 18 in New York City, not a majority.

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