The Next Mayor

Part one
White-collar, black-collar:
Philly's public-sector divide
Does local government reflect the 1.5 million residents of this city? It makes sense that government should lead the way when it comes to diversity and fairness in the workplace and the public sector is integrated -- with blacks, whites and ethnic minorities on the city payroll. But a closer look at the numbers reveals a sharp division between whites and blacks, men and women when it comes to pay and power. It's a story of integration and inequality.
Today: Part I introduces the current diversity of the public sector.
Tomorrow: Part II delves into the best- and worst-paying jobs and who works them.
The Basics
It rarely gets listed as one of the largest employers, but Philadelphia city government and entities it owns (Philadelphia Gas Works) or helps subsidize and govern (the School District and SEPTA) has four times the number of employees of Comcast, the city's largest private company.
Largest employers in Philadelphia
Hover over the stacked bars to see the breakdown of employers.
Tap on the stacked bars to see the breakdown of employers.
SOURCE: Select Greater Philadelphia, Local government payroll data
This year, local government will pay its 52,750 fulltime employees nearly $2.8 billion in salaries alone, acting as a generator of wealth in the city and its neighborhoods. Most local government employees live within city limits and can be found in every neighborhood.
Where public employees live
Fulltime employees only. Hover over the map.
Fulltime employees only. Tap on the map.
Less than 500
500 to 1000
1001 to 1500
Over 1500
City employees: #
School district: #
Philadelphia Gas Works: #
SOURCE: Next Mayor Analysis of 2015 payroll data, SEPTA employees not included
Overall, government workers make decent wages and have excellent fringe benefits. Except in the school district, which has shed several thousand jobs in recent years, layoffs are rare. Salaries of workers who are not managers range from a low of $24,000 a year to over $100,000 annually. A couple composed of a wife who teaches in the public schools and a husband who drives a SEPTA bus will earn $123,000 a year.
Examples of average salaries, ranked high to low
Employer Title Number Salary
CityPhysicians (Health Dept.)9 $152,907
SchoolsPrincipal242 $115,389
CityPolice Captain75 $102,679
CityFire Captain100 $82,389
CityPolice Detective519 $75,047
CityAssistant District Attorney283 $72,515
SchoolsTeacher8,170 $69,718
CityFire Paramedic199 $67,526
SEPTAEngineer199 $67,013
CityPolice Officer4,786 $66,630
CityHealth Registered Nurse53 $65,525
PGWField Serviceperson64 $62,956
SEPTAConductor261 $61,911
CityFirefighter1,370 $60,270
SEPTASubway-El Operator153 $59,225
SEPTACashier343 $55,983
CityRecreation Leader154 $55,396
CityAsst. City Solicitor71 $54,960
CitySocial Worker681 $54,766
CityProbation Officer459 $54,145
SEPTABus Operator2,399 $53,802
CityLibrarians (1 &2) 118 $51,567
PGWPipe Mechanic 72 $50,442
SEPTAAssistant Conductor74 $49,997
CityAuto Maintenance Technician162 $44,144
Schools Bus Chauffeur (Fulltime)123 $44,035
CityStreets Crew Chief61 $42,433
CityL&I Inspector54 $41,741
SEPTACustodian492 $40,720
CityCorrectional Officer1,872 $40,575
SchoolsSchool Police 257 $40,468
CityYouth Detention Counselor118 $40,346
CityPolice Dispatcher244 $39,244
CitySecretary61 $35,294
CityWord Processing Specialist116 $35,056
CityHighway/Water Dept. Workers296 $34,554
CityAccount Clerk76 $34,479
CityCustodial Worker353 $33,946
CityLaborer (Trash/Recycling)747 $32,017
SchoolsClassroom Assistant441 $24,466
SOURCE: Next Mayor Analysis, 2015 local government payrolls
For many, working for the government is a key to a middle-class life. In turn, middle- class families tend to be home owners and help stabilize neighborhoods. Traditionally, a job in government has served as a leg up for immigrants, minorities and women, who were often blocked or stymied in getting jobs in the private marketplace. Ideally, the government workforce should reflect the diversity of the city. It's not simply a matter of fairness. Having a Chinese police officer, a Dominican social worker, a Vietnamese L&I inspector or a Puerto Rican school counselor helps government connect with immigrant Philadelphians, especially if these workers are bilingual.
Does our government workforce reflect the diversity of the city?
City government workforce in 2015
City population in 2015
SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, Next Mayor Analysis 2015 payroll data
The local government workforce is integrated, with nearly an equal number of blacks and whites on the public payroll. But Asians and Latinos are under-represented, when compared to their presence in the city.
Workforce diversity two decades behind
You can see how dated the diversity of our city's workforce is, more closely resembling the city's population 15 years ago.
City government workforce in 2015
City population in 2000
SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, Next Mayor Analysis 2015 payroll data
Integration by race and gender is just one measure, though. Look more deeply into the numbers and real differences emerge when you look at the presence of women and minorities in the higher paying jobs. When it comes to city government, the annual average salary of whites is more $10,000 higher than blacks and the average salary for males is nearly $5,000 higher than the average female employee.
Average salaries in city government
Includes all city departments, including Water and Airport.
SOURCE: Next Mayor Analysis, 2015 payroll data
This presents a mystery. Civil service rules and union contracts demand pay equity within jobs, usually based on seniority. A Philadelphia police sergeant makes the same average yearly salary -- regardless of race, ethnic origin or gender.

How can this inequality exist? To find the answer, in Part Two we take a deeper look into the data on local government payrolls.

By the numbers