Census changes could affect affirmative action

Minority workers holding computer and mathematical jobs increased their share by 8.8 percent during the 1990s, according to a preliminary analysis of Census 2000 occupational data. Women, however, lost a bit of their share of the IT workforce pool during the same period.

Those demographic changes could affect the affirmative action plans of federal contractors, who must adjust their goals based on the available labor pool for their metropolitan areas.

The Census 2000 Special Equal Employment Opportunity Tabulation came from the most recent population census data, said Peter Skalak, senior director of the Peopleclick Research Institute of Raleigh, N.C. The data file holds statistics on occupation, geographic location, race and gender.

The tabulation is a relatively narrow set of data fields compared with the entire Census 2000 results, Skalak said.

Minorities held 25.1 percent of computer and mathematical operations occupations in 2000 versus 16.3 percent in 1990, the institute reported. The share of database administrator jobs held by minorities went up by 9.5 percent over the decade.

On the other hand, women held only 30.0 percent of the computer and mathematical operations jobs in 2000, down from 32.3 percent 10 years earlier.

Women made gains in some IT categories and saw losses in others. The percentage of female database administrators rose by 10.8 percent, but female network and computer systems administrators dropped by 7.7 percent.

The EEO data is a snapshot of the population as of April 2000'nearly four years ago. Nevertheless, the Census Bureau released the EEO tabulation only last December after four federal agencies requested and paid for the data compilation.

Of all broad occupational categories, computer and mathematical operations jobs increased the most between 1990 and 2000, according to Peopleclick's analysis. Employment of network and systems administrators went up 515 percent, while database administrator jobs soared by a whopping 1,773 percent.

Because the dot-com bust followed Census 2000, however, many of the IT jobs listed in the EEO tabulation may no longer exist, said Lisa Grant Harpe, an industrial psychologist at Peopleclick.


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