“The short answer to ‘do we think this is an opportunity to ensure we have a diverse workforce?’ is yes,” said Lora Rae Anderson, director of communications to State Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe, who is also the DAS commissioner.
Anderson reacted to what is projected to be a large wave of retirements throughout the Connecticut state government next year. 72 percent of more than 8,000 executive branch state employees eligible to retire in 2022 are seriously considering it, according to a consultant’s report commissioned by Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration. More employees than usual are eligible for retirement because the average age of the state’s workforce is on the rise. Also, a formula for calculating pension and retiree health benefits will be different after June 30, creating a possible incentive for some employees.
“These retirements cause a risk to the quality and availability of services, for sure,” said Mohamad Alkadry, head of the Department of Public Policy at UConn, recently addressing members of a legislative task force charged with coming up with recommendations for addressing what’s been described as a potential “tsunami” of retirements.
“But there’s also an opportunity to address the disparities in representation and past injustice in terms of representation,” said Alkadry.
Women continue to be underrepresented in certain agencies and divisions such as police services, highway operations, engineering, and construction, and one prison included in another report produced by UConn and the State Comptroller’s Office. The analysis is based on data pulled in March 2021 of nearly 28,360 full-time state employees who work in executive branch agencies.
The same report found the number of newly hired Black and Hispanic-Latina women for jobs in male-dominated state agencies is far below their representation in the overall Connecticut population. For example, between March 30, 2020, and March 30, 2021, 3.7 percent of the new hires were Black women, while they make up about 5 percent of the population. Hispanic-Latina women made up 2.8 percent of the new hires, despite comprising 7 percent of the population.
While the total number of white employees in executive branch agencies as a whole continues to exceed the percentage of white residents living in Connecticut— a gap that has diminished with new hires — the total number of Hispanic-Latino state employees is the most underrepresented group. The gap has worsened with new hires, according to the report.
The state’s Hispanic-Latino population increased by 144,206 people from 2010 to 2020 (pop. growth from 13.4% to 17.3%), while the white population declined by 377,282 reported U.S. Census data. The group makes up over 623,000 people of nearly 3.6 million total population in the state.
Anderson said the state of Connecticut’s recruitment staff have already been thinking critically about ways to reach more diverse populations to fill the large numbers of anticipated open positions, such as sharing information about job opportunities through new outlets, including print and digital. She said the public “in all communities” can expect to see more information about state job openings in the coming months.
A legislative task force is scheduled to present recommendations to the General Assembly in February.
Publisher’s Note: this story is an aggregate from Connecticut eyes diversity as retirement ‘tsunami’ expected by Susan Haigh.
Cover Photo Credit: CTMirror, Connecticut’s diversity: Growing in expected and unexpected places