New Council Report Shows Significant Gender And Racial Pay Disparity Among City Workers

A new report by the New York City Council highlights pay differences in the New York City municipal workforce, showing male workers earned a median salary of $21,600 more than women in 2018. The report was released today to line up with Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, which acknowledges the 20 months a Black woman would have to work to achieve the same average pay a white man would make in twelve months.

The 79-page final report was compiled by the Council’s data analyst team, which assessed salaries earned in 2018 by more than 160,000 workers, both union and non-union. (There are about 330,000 city employees overall.) The study was drafted in accordance to a 2019 law mandating the city release salary data to the Council for analysis annually. Such information was previously undisclosed to the Council, and advocates hope the provision can help close the wage gap as income disparities persist citywide.

Analysts studied the salaries of workers in 36 agencies managed by mayoral appointees, breaking down the data by agency, base salary, job title, race, gender, and ethnicity.

The report illustrated a major pay difference between genders—the median salary for a man stood at $79,000, and $57,400 for a woman.

The report also highlighted the racial pay gap, and found that the median income of a white male employee was $19,713 higher than a Black male employee, and that for every $1 of a white male’s median income, a Black woman earned 66 cents on the dollar. Even if Black women have the same job experience, qualifications, and title as a white man, they would be expected to earn 1.9% less than a white man, according to the report’s analysis.

A chart from the study showing racial and gender pay disparity

When it came to men and women holding the same job title at the same agency, there was also a big pay difference. The difference in median income pay between men and women sanitation workers is $32,700. For men and women holding a title of a deputy city sheriff, the median salary pay difference was $28,400.

The report found pay disparity is driven by “occupational segregation,” defined as jobs traditionally dominated by one demographic. Analysts found that male-dominated agencies such as the FDNY pay higher than agencies with more women or people of color, such as the Human Resources Administration.

The highest-paid management post in the FDNY went to a white male who made $234,100 in 2018. The highest-paid management post in HRA went to a woman who made $140,800 the same year. Overall, the report found the median salary at the FDNY was $85,292 while the median salary at HRA was $48,417. The FDNY’s workforce was 57% white in 2018, while HRA’s employee base was 53% Black.

A chart from the study showing racial and gender pay disparity at city agencies

The 2019 Pay Equity Law was passed after the Communication Workers of America Local 1180 union settled a yearslong pay discrimination lawsuit alleging the city paid female administrative managers less than men for decades. The city settled for $15 million.

“The findings in this report hint at the true facts about employment discrimination and pay disparity, a quite familiar topic for many of us who deal with it on a regular basis,” Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, who authored the bill, said in a statement. “It shows clear, across-the-board discrimination of occupations that have a predominantly Black and brown workforce. It is also incredible to see and verify that the ‘glass ceiling’ of executive management exists for people of color across the entire city workforce.”

The disclosures will likely help push for greater pay parity, according to Gloria Middleton, president of CWA Local 1180. In an interview with Gothamist/WNYC, Middleton said with Mayor Bill de Blasio approaching the end of his term, the next mayor should take up pay equity by establishing an equal opportunity committee.

The committee should examine how agencies decide “who gets paid what,” said Middleton, adding, “Women should be able to make the same money.” She noted that even in instances when female CWA members return to college to finish their degree, they’re still not paid the same amount as male colleagues.

Recommendations highlighted in the report include creating a pipeline to allow more women and minorities to apply for higher-paying jobs held mostly by white men, and requiring agencies to adjust salaries after analyzing pay differences. “The people at the highest levels should not be white males,” Middleton said.

The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to comment over how it would address pay disparities.