Inequity Found in City Staff's Pay

Article excerpt

One minority member and no women are among the 10 highest wage earners in Pittsburgh's government, a sign of racial and gender pay inequalities that some critics say pervades the city's work force.

A Tribune-Review analysis of the city's 3,203 employees shows women's salaries are an average of $9,749 less than those of men; and black employees receive salaries that are, on average, $5,570 less than white employees.

Though women make up about 25 percent of the city's work force, they earn about 21 percent of the city's $145.86 million base payroll. The figures do not include overtime.

"The dearth of women in management means that their salaries are going to be lower," said Susan B. Hansen, a University of Pittsburgh professor who studies gender wage disparities. "Another factor is that many women are clustered in clerical positions that are union positions."

Hansen said civil service hiring rules should be blind to race and gender, meaning that a municipality is capable of creating an employee pool that could double as a cross-section of the city's population. For instance, Washington has the best pay equity rates in the nation because of its high number of government jobs, she said.

"But (Pittsburgh) is a city that still runs on patronage and who knows whom," Hansen said.

Barbara Trant, director of the Department of Personnel and Civil Service Commission, said Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is taking steps to hire more women and minorities, but added that it's premature to conclude that women and minorities don't receive fair pay from the city when compared to their white, male counterparts.

"We have a ways to go in our minority hiring in order for our city employee population to look like the city at-large population," Trant said. "Other than that, a lot of our positions within the city are just generally geared in some way towards a male applicant. So I'm not sure what you learn from your analysis."

A March study from Pitt's Center for Social and Urban Research found that American women make 64 cents for every $1 men make. In Pittsburgh, women made 58 cents to every $1 a man made working in the same position.

The Pitt study accounted for education, age, marital status, work experience, children and other factors that influence salaries. The Trib's analysis of city wages does not take those factors into account because such details are not publicly available for each city employee.

Trant said she wants to see results of a $92,000 gender and race wage disparity study to be done by Evergreen Solutions of Tallahassee, Fla.

The study will begin once Ravenstahl's office signs the contract and accepts a $20,000 donation from the Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania. Taxpayers will pick up the remaining $72,000. …