Study Reveals Gulf in Racial, Gender Pay Equity Among City Workers

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A report released by the office of San Diego mayor Todd Gloria is highlighting wide disparities in compensation between the city's employees.

According to a news release sent out Tuesday, San Diego municipal workers of color received, on average, nearly 21% less compensation than white workers, while women made an average of 17.6% percent less than their male counterparts.

"My administration is working toward creating a more equitable place for our dedicated, diverse workforce," Gloria is quoted as saying in the news release. "Understanding the city’s challenges with pay equity is the first step and it won’t be our last."

According to city officials, some progress has been made in gender pay equity since 2011, but as of 2019, that figure had only narrowed by 1.2%, down from 18.8%. However, "the racial and ethnic pay gap has grown (17.0% to 20.8%)," according to the news release.

As of 2019, according to the study, woman made up just 32% of the municipal workforce, while people of color made up 55%.

The study did not uncover any direct evidence of bias, officials said, who, instead, pointed to such factors as occupation, overtime and whether employees have children.

The police and fire departments are big factors in explaining the pay gap, according to the report, which shows that men are more likely to qualify for jobs with the police department even though women who apply are more likely to have college degrees. And because police and fire personnel rack up a lot of overtime, that tilts overall wages in their favor, and since they the departments are dominated by men, especially white men, that affects the city's overall pay equity.

Meanwhile, women and minorities who have children earn between 3-7% less than their counterparts who don't have kids. Meanwhile, salaries for white men show no change when their families grow.

Gloria admits the city has work to do, especially when it comes to what the report calls the parenthood penalty.

"C'mon, it's 2021," Gloria told NBC 7. "We're beyond that, right? We recognize that women are qualified and able to do any job. It's whether the city is able to provide the support so they can do that, as well as for people of color."

The study recommends the city look at benefits to help parents, higher pay to increase recruiting and more research to close the pay gap citywide.

The city conducts a pay-equity study every three years, officials said.

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