The Corner

Hispanics and Federal Employment

An article today in the Washington Post begins: “A coalition of Hispanic organizations urged the Bush administration and Congress yesterday to dramatically increase the number of Hispanics working in the federal government, saying the minority group is underrepresented throughout the bureaucracy.” The claim of “underrepresentation” hinges on the fact that 13 percent of the entire civilian workforce is Hispanic, versus only 7 percent of federal civilian employees.

But the trouble here is that one is generally ineligible for federal civilian employment unless one is a U.S. citizen. This makes the “13 percent” number for Hispanics a dubious benchmark for comparison, since, relative to the rest of the population, a high percentage of Hispanics are immigrants and either unnaturalized or even undocumented. Indeed, about 30 percent of all Hispanics in the United States are noncitizens.

It is interesting, by the way, that the only minority group for which a plausible case of “underrepresentation” in the federal workplace can be made is Hispanics. As of 2002, even they met or exceeded their representation in 7 of 17 executive branch agencies and 6 of 23 independent agencies. Nonetheless, the government’s “affirmative action” programs continue apace.

And for Hispanics or any other group, “underrepresentation” doesn’t mean discrimination, since it could mean only that they are less interested in federal jobs or less qualified for the ones for which they apply. Are these suggestions implausible and racist? Remember that whites are “underrepresented,” too, if only marginally. The federal Office for Personnel Management does not—surprise!–give us figures for whites, but other data supplied by OPM show that whites make up about 72 percent of the civilian work force vs. 69 percent of the federal work force. Nor is this a recent phenomenon. Whites have been “underrepresented” every year since at least 1984, the earliest year for which the OPM has provided figures.

The bottom line is that the federal government should just concentrate on hiring the best employees, and tell the bean-counters to get lost.


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