City workers clear mud from a subway entry in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, in the Coney Island section of New York. Two days after superstorm Sandy rampaged across the Northeast, killing at least 63 people, New York struggled Wednesday to find its way. Swaths of the city were still without power, and all of it was torn from its daily rhythms. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)National Journal

A substantial proportion of workers toiling to get the nation's largest transit system rolling again are people of color.

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Ferocious winds from Hurricane Sandy left tree trunks and even a 40-foot boat blocking New York's subway tracks, photos in the Metropolitan Transit Administration's website show, and flooding has crippled the system, Colorlines.com reports.

While parts of the system opened Thursday morning, employees — about two-thirds of whom are minorities — are working around the clock to clean out other subway segments.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg estimates train service will be restored within five days, and acknowledges the danger involved in getting it back on track. "Subway workers have to walk the thousands of miles of track to inspect the subway tunnels," the mayor said, according to Colorlines.com.

The article provided a demographic breakdown of subway workers from a 2009 New York City Labor Market Report. The report examined 2007 data.

  • 3 of 5 urban transit workers are black or Latino.
  • About 7 percent are Asian.
  • More than 40 percent are black.
  • Approximately 30 percent are white.
  • Most are at least 45 years old.
  • Nearly 80 percent are New York City residents.
  • Some 43 percent have a high school diploma or GED

This story is part of our Next America: Workforce project, which is supported by a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

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