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City of Columbia closing wage gap

Sunday, August 17, 2008 | 8:56 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Although the 2004 U.S. Census shows that women nationally make about 75.5 cents to every dollar that men make, the city of Columbia closer to closing that wage gap. Female city employees make about 91 cents to every dollar that male employees do.

Racial minorities, however, tend to make less than white people. Hispanic women make the least, at about 66 percent of what white men make, even accounting for discrepancies in the number of employees. Although the city differentiates between Hispanics and other whites, the Census does not.

City workforce at a glance

To read the city’s equal opportunity policy go to gocolumbiamo.com/Council/Columbia_Code_of_Ordinances/Chapter_19/176.html.
For the document that lists the name, pay, gender, race, title and year hired of every city employee, go to thewatchword.wordpress.com.


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On average, city employees make $41,948 per year. The highest-earning racial group is Asian/Pacific Islanders: Men in that demographic earn an average $44,193 per year, and the one woman who fits that description makes $49,180.

The next highest group is white men, who earn an average of $43,394 per year. Hispanic women earn an average of $28,842, the only group that earns an average of less than $30,000.

All those numbers are based on data provided by the Human Resources Department in May.

City Human Resources Director Margrace Buckler said one of the reasons white men as a group earn higher average salaries is that the city has many white men who have been around long enough to be at the top of their pay scales. She said this especially true in labor-intensive jobs such as the people who run the sewer plant.

“The guys that do those jobs, they stay here forever,” she said.

Buckler added that in her 10 years with the city there have been three complaints about racial discrimination regarding wages and one about gender discrimination.

The highest earner in the city is City Manager Bill Watkins, who makes $147,784 per year. He is one of five employees who earn more than $100,000; the rest direct various departments. The lowest earner, at $11,571, is a white female administrative assistant who was hired in 2007.

An analysis of the city’s work force also shows there are relatively few women employed by the city. The 2006 Census shows there are slightly more women than men living in Columbia, but women make up about 27 percent of city employees. The Human Resources Department also reported that of the 3,941 applications for permanent positions it received in fiscal 2007, 2,208, or 56 percent, were from women; 698 applicants were racial minorities.

Buckler — who earns $85,410 — explained the discrepancy. She noted that men and women apply for different jobs at different rates. Specifically, administrative assistant jobs traditionally held by women are in high demand, with “literally 100 people” sometimes applying for one job. Other openings in male-dominated fields tend to draw only a few applicants.

Buckler also said the city goes out of its way to attract applications from women and minorities. But at the end of the day, it hires the most qualified candidates.


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Comments

Ray Shapiro August 18, 2008 | 1:51 a.m.

When the sewer guys and the heavy laborers retire, we'll need the right kind of women to replace them. I'm also certain that it's also rigorous to become a police officer. (If you want it, then go for it!) It also seems to me that there are actually more women currently working in Columbia then this article leads us to believe. Think public schools, hospitals, the Universities and lots of retail.) I would also like to see figures for the number of non-working "single" moms. I think the City of Columbia is doing a great job in hiring the right people for the right job. (And that's coming from someone who rarely gives out compliments.)

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