POLITICS

Underrepresented In Federal Jobs, Latinos Look To African-American Success For Lessons

 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers staff a checkpoint at O'Hare International Airport

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers staff a checkpoint at O'Hare International Airport  (2010 Getty Images)

Hispanic groups across the country are trying to identify the barriers that have kept Latinos from climbing the socioeconomic ladder by studying the success in different areas of other minority ethnic groups.

One economic sector in which Hispanics have been long dogged by underrepresentation is the federal workforce. According to The Washington Post, Hispanic organizations have taken note of how African-Americans have gotten a foot in the federal employment door and helped others follow them in.

Latinos make up 17 percent of the U.S. population, but only 8.2 percent of the 1.9 million federal workers, the Post reported. By comparison, African-Americans comprise 13 percent of the population but 18.2 percent of the federal workforce.

“Our community could be way ahead financially if we were able to participate in federal government hiring the way African-Americans did,” said Edward Valenzuela, co-chairman of the Coalition for Fairness for Hispanics in Government.

Over the decades, African-Americans have established networks that make it easier for people in the community to learn about and gain access to job opportunities in the federal government, the Post reported, which has helped many African Americans move into the middle class.

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“African-American families often have become their own networks,” the paper said, “and it is common, especially in Washington, to find multiple relatives across several generations all working for the government.”

Valenzuela’s group has been trying to provide to Hispanics the kind of job leads and contacts that African-Americans have cultivated. The Coalition also helps guide Latinos through the application process.

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