Hispanics Still Underrepresented in Federal Workforce, OPM Study Finds

The U.S. government still has a diversity problem.

While the number of Hispanic employees in federal agencies has slowly increased, their proportion still lags behind that within the overall workforce, a new report from the Office of Personnel Management has found.

During fiscal year 2011, Hispanic federal employees increased from 8 percent to 8.1 percent of the government workforce. Representation in the Senior Executive Service, where budgets are approved and decisions are made, remains even lower. Hispanics accounted for 2.7 percent of the SES workforce in fiscal year 2010 and 5.4 percent in fiscal  2011.

Hispanics made up 15 percent of the nation's workforce in 2010, and they are expected to comprise about 18 percent of the overall labor force by 2018, according to the Labor Department.

Of the more than two dozen federal agencies examined in the OPM report, more than half reported increases in Hispanic hires. Five agencies — Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, State Department, and Health and Human Services — had declining numbers of Hispanics, according to the report.

In December, President Obama announced a program to promote diversity and inclusion in the federal workforce. But the challenge to increase Hispanic representation in federal agencies spans more than two decades. Hispanic organizations, such as the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, through their national internship program, have created opportunities for young Latinos to get hands-on experience in various areas of government, including federal agencies.

The OPM report shows that blacks make up 18 percent of the federal government workforce, while Asians and American Indian/Alaskan natives make up 5.9 percent and 2 percent, respectively.