By the numbers

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 3, 2014

SALISBURY — Almost three out of four people working for Salisbury city government are white, even though the city’s general population is only 46 percent white.
The city’s African-American population is 32 percent, according to 2013 Census numbers, but only 16 percent of the city government’s workforce is black.
In city government recruitment efforts this year, out of 722 people who applied for city jobs, 64.3 percent (466 applicants) were white; 27.7 percent (201 people), black; 5.1 percent (37) Hispanic; and the remaining 2.9 percent, Asian, Native American and Pacific Islander.
Those were some of the numbers shared Tuesday with Salisbury City Council in a report given toward the end of its regularly scheduled meeting. Presenting the numbers were Ruth Kennerly and Michelle Nguyen of the city’s human resources department.
The report comes on the heels of concerns expressed by citizens last month about diversity, salaries and worker recruitment in city government.
Generally, council members took Tuesday’s Power Point presentation as information. Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Blackwell asked for a hard copy she could share with citizens who ask questions about diversity.
Blackwell said she also would like to see this kind of report annually.
Kennerly stressed the city, when it’s hiring employees, is not just making decisions based on race and gender, but it places heavy emphasis on skills and a passion to work for Salisbury.
“It’s a fierce competition,” she added.
The city had 445 employees in 2005, of which 15 percent (68 employees) were specified as black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian or multi-racial. In 2010 and continuing in 2014, that same minority population represents 20 percent of the city workforce, or 101 employees.
Salisbury city government has 498 employees at present.
The percentage of female employees with the city has increased from 20 percent in 2005 to 22 percent in 2010 to 25 percent in 2014.
Mayor Paul Woodson asked whether the city’s recruitment efforts extend to Livingstone College, a traditionally black school. Kennerly noted her department’s efforts in attending job fairs at Livingstone, visiting classes and offering internships.
Interim City Manager John Sofley said the city is continually trying to increase its minority numbers, but he also indicated a difficulty in retaining employees, regardless of race, when they are offered higher-paying jobs elsewhere.
“If you have good people, other people want them,” Sofley said.
Here were some of the other highlights shared in the human resources department’s report:
• There were 25 full-time employees who made less than $20,000 annually in 2005; three in 2010; and one person today. Of the 24 in 2005, 13 were African-American. No African-American city employee makes less than $20,000 a year today.
• Of the employees making more than $40,000 annually in 2005, only four were African-American. In 2010, the number was 12. Today it’s 11. Also in 2014, four Hispanic employees are making more than $40,000 a year.
• Of the Parks and Recreation Department’s 50 employees, 40 percent are black, Hispanic, Asian or multi-racial.
• Of the Police Department’s 88 employees, only 14 percent are minority.
• Of the Fire Department’s 85 employees, only 8 percent are minority.
• In 2010 in the Police Department, 82 percent of the employees were white; 18 percent, black or Hispanic. In 2014, 78 percent are white; 14 percent, black or Hispanic; 8 percent, not specified. (Employees do not have to specify their race.)
• Again, in the Police Department today, 71 of the employees are white; 10, black; three, Hispanic; and seven, not specified.
• Of the 59 supervisors and department heads in city government today, 41 are white males. That compares to 49 people in those positions in 2005, when 36 were white males.
• Of 35 city employees in professional positions today, 15 are white. That compares to 50 professionals in 2005, of whom 33 were white.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.