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STATE OF THE ART

THE (UN)INTENDED CONSEQUENCES


OF BILINGUAL EMPLOYMENT
POLICIES
Ethnoraciality and Labor Market Segmentation in
Alameda County, CA

Abigail A. Sewell
Department of Sociology, Emory University

Abstract
Recent immigration and migration patterns have altered the ethnoracial composition of
Alameda County, California. Sociopolitical leaders have struggled to adjust to these changes.
In an effort to facilitate limited English speakers’ access to critical municipal services,
Oakland—the largest municipal in Alameda County—passed an Equal Access to Services
Ordinance on May 8, 2001, which is a groundbreaking language access legislation for the
City of Oakland’s public administration. Using data from the 2000 Census and the 2005–2011
American Community Survey, this study examines the impact of bilingual employment
policies on the ethnoracial segmentation of Alameda County workers. Logistic regression
reveals that bilingual employment policies have reorganized both targeted (i.e., public
contact) and non-targeted occupations within the local government public administration
sector. Specifically, Spanish/Chinese bilingual speakers made gains in the public administration
sector (the intended effects), while Black monolingual English speakers experienced
losses (the unintended effects). The representation of Black monolingual English speakers
in public contact jobs within the local government public administration sector declined by
as much as 18 percentage points after the implementation of the nation’s first municipal-
level bilingual employment policy. The impact of bilingual employment policies on the
East Bay’s Black/Brown relations and African American’s hold on low-skilled jobs in
service industries is examined.

Keywords:  Race, Ethnicity, Bilingualism, English Proficiency, Public Administration,


Labor Market, Public Policy

INTRODUCTION

Demographic shifts in the ethnoracial profile of the East Bay have raised concerns
about uneven access to public services along the fault lines of language. On May 8, 2001,

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Abigail A. Sewell

in an effort to facilitate limited English speakers’ access to critical municipal service,


Oakland—the largest municipal of Alameda County, California—became the first
American city to implement a bilingual employment policy in public administration
via the passage of the Equal Access to Services Ordinance (EAO) (Oakland City Council
2001). The legislation mandates that important public administration documents be
translated and bilingual staff be hired in public contact positions for languages reach-
ing a minimum population threshold. Prior to this date, comparable legal statutes had
been operative at the state-level and, broadly so, for federal government. For example,
California’s Dymally-Alatorre Bilingual Services Act (DABSA) was passed in 1973 to
urge state and local public agencies serving a sufficient number of limited English-
speaking persons to hire bilingual staff.
Since the passage of the act, political controversy regarding the implementation
(and lack thereof) of EAO policy has arisen from both inside and outside the City
of Oakland administration. One political camp (“discriminatory non-enforcement”)
questions the effectiveness of municipal efforts in implementing EAO policy, while
the other political camp (“discriminatory enforcement”) asserts that the implementa-
tion of EAO policy has resulted in an uneven loss of jobs for monolingual English
workers. This study concerns itself with identifying the labor market effects of imple-
menting the bilingual employment policy on Alameda County workers. In particular,
this study evaluates the labor market impact such policy has on the employment profiles
of: 1) Spanish and Chinese bilingual speakers—the intended targets of the policy; and
2) Black monolingual English speakers—the unintended targets of the policy.
Using IPUMS-USA data from the 5% 2000 Census and the 1% 2005–2011
American Community Survey, this study conducts a trend analysis to examine the
intended and unintended changes in ethnoracial segmentation in several labor mar-
ket outcomes pertinent to bilingual employment policy implementation with a special
focus on how the policy affected Black and Brown people. Specifically, within this
study, the likelihood of having jobs with local government employers, public contact
jobs within local government, and public administration jobs within local government
is considered to be a function of period-dependent discrepancies by ethnoraciality—
measured here as racial group membership, Latino ethnicity, and English language
proficiency—before and after 2001. Results are adjusted for by ethnoracial and period
differences in sociodemographic, human capital, and residential characteristics. This
study raises a basic question: Do new policies intended to improve the access of limited
English speakers to public services (the intended consequences) have a negative impact
on Black public sector employment (the unintended consequences)? Before the data,
methods, and results of the study are presented, primary and historical data sources
are employed to characterize the labor market and political contexts surrounding the
EAO policy implementation controversy and to frame the hypotheses that guide the
analysis of the demographic data.

Bilingual Employment Policy in Oakland, CA


The bilingual employment policy implemented by Oakland can be understood as
informed by demographic shifts in the ethnoracial profile of the East Bay that have
shifted Oakland, CA from a Black Power capital to a multiracial mecca (Joseph 2006;
Singer 2007; Spencer 2005). Oakland, today, is a minority majority city (Kaufmann
2007), where Blacks are still the largest minority group and non-Black minorities
occupy a rapidly increasing share of the population (Figure 1). Similar trends apply for
Alameda County—the county where Oakland is located and the location of the analy-
sis for this paper—such that in 2010, no one ethnoracial group comprised a majority of
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(Un)Intended Consequences

Fig. 1.  Race and Ethnicity Population in Oakland, 1940–2010


Source: Bay Area Census, Historical Census Data, Available at: http://www.bayareacensus.ca.gov/
cities/oakland.htm and http://www.bayareacensus.ca.gov/counties/Alamedacounty.htm (accessed:
30 May 2014)
Notes: Comparable data for Alameda County shown in unfilled markers for year 2010.

Alameda County. In each decade since 1950 (except for the 1960s), Oakland’s Latino
community grew between 33% and 78%. Similarly, Oakland’s Asian community grew
between 55% and 97%. Moreover, both the proportion and number of foreign-born
residents living in Oakland more than doubled in the decades following the civil rights
movement (U.S. Bureau of the Census 2014). Meanwhile, Blacks’ proportion of the
population and absolute size peaked during this period and has since witnessed modest
declines. Census data shows that in 2010, the period following the implementation of
EAO policy, 27.3% of Oakland residents were Black, 25.4% were Latino (of any race),
17.2% were Asian or Pacific Islander, and 25.9% were White (U.S. Bureau of the
Census 2014). Comparable figures for Alameda County show that 12.2% of Alameda
County residents were Black, 22.5% were Latino (of any race), 25.9% were Asian or
Pacific Islander, and 34.1% were White (U.S. Bureau of the Census 2014).
As a “Model City,” the very diversity of Oakland citizenry is considered a wel-
coming feature to potential residents and businesses of the area (City of Oakland
2010). Diversity, however, also presents a challenge to sociopolitical leaders.
As former Mayor Ronald Dellums states: “A Model City is a coherent, cohesive
city, anchored in a vibrant economy, where its citizenry is healthy, well-educated,
well-trained, well-informed and capable of effective interactions with the civic, economic,
social and cultural institutions of our community” (City of Oakland 2010, emphasis
added by author). In an evaluation of the demographic shifts that had occurred
in Oakland since the 2000 Census, the City of Oakland administration believed it
was not living up to its claims to be a Model City, as it was constantly fielding a
number of complaints concerning uneven access to public amenities by its limited
English-speaking residents.
Oakland’s Equal Access to Services Ordinance was implemented to alleviate
the challenges limited English-speaking residents reported facing when attempt-
ing to access basic municipal services, such as paying a parking ticket, phoning in an
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Abigail A. Sewell

emergency, and turning on their utilities. The idea behind this policy was that having
a larger share of bilingual employees of the City of Oakland would alleviate the dis-
tress limited English-speaking residents faced as they navigated public amenities and
services. The ordinance draws upon the language of the 1973 DABSA, which urges
state and local public agencies directly involved in furnishing information or render-
ing services to a largely non-English speaking population to translate written outreach
documents into multiple languages and hire bilingual staff.1
However, Oakland’s bilingual employment policy is more specific than those
implemented in state and federal jurisdictions. To set goals for hiring and department-
specific plans of action, the language of the policy draws upon data from the 2000
Census and the city’s employment records.2 For example, Oakland’s EAO stipulates
that any language shared by more than 10,000 limited-English proficiency residents be
incorporated into the ordinance’s bilingual requirements. Additionally, the ordinance
defines the type of positions for which bilingual staff should be hired. In the origi-
nal version of Oakland’s EAO, a “public contact position” is defined as a “position,
whether clerical, service, professional, or of a sworn nature, that emphasizes greet-
ing, meeting, contact, or provision of information and/or services to the public in the
performance of the duties of that position” (Oakland City Council 2001).3 Moreover,
later revisions of the ordinance created a threshold by which to characterize a position
as “public contact.” An ad hoc committee of City Administration personnel defined
a “public contact position” as “a position who serves the public 50% or more of the
time whether in person, by phone or through correspondence” (Oakland City Council
2001). Consequently, the 50% threshold eliminated a number of classifications from
being considered, including a significant number of personnel in administrative, man-
agement and executive level positions, and staff in field inspection classifications (City
Administrator’s Office-Equal Opportunity Programs Division 2006).
Criteria to measure that the ordinance’s mandates have been sufficiently met
assert that the proportion of public contact positions employed by bilingual workers
should parallel the proportion of the city’s general population that speak a particular
language. In 2000, 11% of Oakland residents spoke Spanish and 8.5% spoke Cantonese
and/or Mandarin. Accordingly, the ordinance’s criteria suggest that 11% of public con-
tact employees should speak both Spanish and English proficiently, and 8.5% should
speak both Chinese and English proficiently. To guard against unfair firing practices,
Oakland’s bilingual employment policy, like DABSA, maintains that existing employ-
ees are not to be dismissed in order to fulfill the law’s mandates. Rather, public agen-
cies must only fill positions made vacant by retirement or normal attrition.4

The Labor Market Context of Alameda County, CA


Due to the hiring constraints articulated in Oakland’s EAO, the larger labor market
context wherein the bilingual employment policy is implemented must also be con-
sidered. At the start of the twenty-first century, the East Bay had undergone and was
undergoing profound demographic and economic changes. California’s “Second Gold
Rush” (Lotchin 2003) brought an influx of limited-English speaking migrants and
immigrants into the ports and hills of the East Bay. To revive the economic lure of
Oakland, political leaders therein embraced urban renewal efforts to revive the down-
town area after the flight of Whites to the East Bay suburbs in the 1960s and 1970s
(Bailey 2005). For instance, Jerry Brown’s 10K project aimed to bring 10,000 people
into downtown Oakland by 2010. The mayor focused efforts on new condominium
and apartments developments with the hope that businesses and cultural entertain-
ment would follow the people (Elinson 2010).
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(Un)Intended Consequences

Former Mayor Jerry Brown’s commitment to revitalize through new housing


development did bring a modest influx of small businesses and upwardly-mobile resi-
dents into certain sections of downtown Oakland. However, the gradual and eventual
collapse of the vibrant 1990s housing market led to vacant units and large budget defi-
cits to the city’s next mayor, Ronald Dellums, since population growth contracted and
credit became harder to approve. As the first decade of the new millennium closed,
vacancy rates in Oakland were two and half times those of the millennium (Census
2007), and unemployment rates remained well above the national average (State of
California 2010).
Arguably, these larger social and economic forces prime and shape the perspec-
tives city residents have about the (lack of) EAO implementation. While demographic
shifts in ethnicity and language certainly inform the need for the EAO, the introduc-
tion of language policies for political and civic purposes represents, in some ways,
a natural extension of California’s multilingual tradition. For instance, even as English
has maintained its dominance as the language of the land, California has always
maintained a tradition of multiple languages. As such, to many, the recent surge of
immigrants speaking Spanish and one of many Asian languages obliges state and
local government agencies to actively seek multilingual employees.
Moreover, the public sector, the concern of this paper, has been a leader in the
recognition of non-discrimination employment policies since the Civil Rights era.
Accordingly, the public sector has become a key source of equal compensation and
professional employment (Grodsky and Pager, 2001), allowing entry and expansion
of the middle class for many non-Whites, especially for native-born Blacks (Farley
and Allen, 1987; Katz and Stern, 2008). At the twentieth century’s end, 19% of Black
men and 43% of Black women worked in public or state-related jobs (i.e., jobs that
were nominally private but dependent on public funding) and the median income
of Black public-sector employees working full time exceeded the income of compa-
rable private-sector employees by 15% for men and 19% for women (Katz and Stern,
2008). Moreover, cities with higher numbers of Blacks in public employment yielded
the lowest Black poverty rates while increasing the effectiveness of municipal public
assistance programs and solidifying Blacks’ political influence therein (Katz and Stern,
2008; Katz et al., 2005). Thus, at the crux of the controversy stirred by EAO lies a
labor market that has historically been ethnoracially segmented.

The Political Controversy Surrounding EAO Policy


Both the implementation and lack of implementation of EAO policy has ignited
a political controversy along Black/Brown fault lines. A variety of political and
civic actors have been involved in the controversy spanning two political leaders
of Oakland from the period of 2001 (the year of policy implementation) through
2009 (the year of the settling of the last law suit concerning EAO policy). While
only the discriminatory enforcement perspective explicitly claims discrimination
has occurred on the part of the City of Oakland administration, both sides cite
uneven treatment in the city’s efforts to implement the EAO. Primary documents
and media accounts of these perspectives are utilized to clarify assertions that will
be tested with demographic data from Alameda County, CA. The data, then, is his-
torical in nature and privileges the voices of the political and civic actors to frame
the hypotheses that guide the analysis of this paper.
The “Brown” perspective maintains that the City of Oakland administration has
failed to properly implement the bilingual employment policy (“discriminatory non-
enforcement”). This perspective hinges upon the assertion that a multilingual political
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Abigail A. Sewell

administration offers several benefits to local societies, including better incorporation


of limited-English speakers into the political and civic milieu. This is a perspective
that closely follows those asserted by proponents of bilingual and multilingual educa-
tion (Baker 2011; Benson 2002; Cummins 2000; Shohamy 2012). The language of the
EAO places the onus of responsibility for facilitating implementation, compliance,
assessment, monitoring, and enforcement of the public policy on the City Administra-
tor (EAO 2001). The City Administrator is mandated to collect and submit annual
compliance plans to the City Council evaluating the city’s progress on attaining dis-
tinct criteria specified in the ordinance every six months (EAO 2001). Between 2001
and 2009, three persons served as City Administrator: Robert Bobb, Deborah Edgerly,
and Dan Lindheim (Rayburn 2009). From the Brown perspective, both Edgerly and
Lindheim established and continued a legacy of non-enforcement, where no special
efforts were made to enforce the EAO.
On September 15, 2008, four community groups representing the discriminatory
non-enforcement camp—Family Bridges, Inc., Organization of Chinese Americans-
East Bay Chapter, The Spanish Speaking Unity Council, and California ACORN—
filed a lawsuit against the City of Oakland for failing to fulfill its obligations under
the bilingual employment policy (Buitrago and Rodriguez, 2008). The nonprofit law
firm, Public Advocates, representing the community groups asserted that Oakland
public administrators have neglected to supply consistent and complete reports of the
city’s progress on implementing the bilingual employment policy since its inception
and have yet to submit an annual compliance plan that fulfills the hiring mandates
required by the ordinance (Buitrago and Rodriguez, 2008). Another lawsuit was filed
by the Educational Coalition for Latinos in Oakland (ECHO), the Spanish Speaking
Citizens’ Foundation, and ACPO Inc., who were represented by Peter Roos and Mary
K. Gillespie (Public Advocates 2011).
Public Advocates and Buitrago maintain that the city has only provided three
“incomplete” plans and has failed to provide plans consistently since the passing of
the bilingual employment policy. A review of the City of Oakland’s public documents
confirms that annual reports were submitted for only three of the seven fiscal years
covering the period focused on by the discriminatory non-enforcement lawsuits. In
2011, both lawsuits were settled by the city without admission of liability or fault. The
city agreed to pay the plaintiff’s legal fees of $400,000 (Kuruvila 2011), implement the
EAO, and assist municipal departments in understanding their duty in enacting EAO
policy (City of Oakland 2011).
The Public Advocates lawsuit does not allege discrimination explicitly in the city’s
implementation of the bilingual employment policy—only that the city has failed to
do its due diligence in policy implementation. In fact, Section 2.30.030 of the EAO
contends that the article should be interpreted and applied so as to be consistent with
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, California’s Fair Employment and Housing
Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and any article of the City of Oakland’s Charter.
In this sense, the Brown perspective asserts that the City Administrator is not fulfill-
ing legal dues and acting inappropriately by not implementing the EAO. Moreover,
the community groups represented by Public Advocates and attorneys Peter Roos and
Mary K. Gillespie do adopt the language of civil rights policy to describe the EAO.
Adopting a civil rights stance on bilingual employment policies further infers that the
lack of dutiful implementation of the policy is not only a form of administrative over-
sight, but also a form of civil rights negligence (Public Advocates 2011). Language-
based discrimination, thus, is implied but not plainly stated.
Meanwhile, the “Black” perspective, which focuses on the disparate impact
of bilingual employment policies (“discriminatory enforcement”), maintains that
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(Un)Intended Consequences

implementing Oakland’s EAO violates prospective employees’ constitutional rights


and forces the City Administrator to act in ways that are inconsistent with the city’s
charter for non-discrimination on the basis of race. Staff of the Equal Access Task
Force (2001) assert that a legal review of the ordinance indicates that implementing
bilingual employment policy contradicts equal opportunity provisions of federal, state,
and local agencies and fails to be consistent with the local laws it cites originally.5
The discriminatory enforcement perspective was captured best by former City
Administrator Deborah Edgerly on July 14, 2009, who cited in her wrongful termi-
nation lawsuit against the City of Oakland that she refused to accept hiring prac-
tices urged by the bilingual employment policy that she considered discriminatory
(Rayburn 2009).6 The Black perspective, then, explicitly references discrimination in
its arguments. From the discriminatory enforcement perspective, any proportional loss
of local government jobs by Blacks is seen as a filter into the traps of unemployment
and poverty, for it closes an important door to economic opportunity for historically-
disadvantaged Blacks. Recognition of the public sector’s success at providing a stable
source of social and economic mobility for Blacks is at the cornerstone of the argu-
ment against discriminatory enforcement of bilingual employment policies.
In 2007, the City of Oakland’s Equal Opportunity Programs Division—the
civil rights arm of the City of Oakland—challenged the legality of Oakland’s EAO.
Yet, the challenge was unsuccessful. The City’s Attorney, John Russo, responded
that the ordinance is consistent with California state law, municipal codes, and any
other federal or state law. Moreover, the bilingual employment policy does not refer-
ence race or national origin directly nor was its passage motivated by race or national
origin. Based on legal definitions of discrimination, disparate impact of a policy by eth-
noracial group does not constitute a violation of Title VII if a discriminatory require-
ment is job-related and consistent with business necessity and if other means could not
achieve the same end.7 Russo (2007) asserts that the bilingual skill requirement that
was designed “so that immigrants can have access to government services is undeniably
job related and consistent with business necessity” (p. 2; emphasis added by author).
Noteworthy, public policies similar to Oakland’s EAO have been passed and imple-
mented in several other cities since 20018 and is being considered by governmental
entities across the nation (Russo 2007). The constitutionality of the bilingual employ-
ment policy has yet to be formally challenged. However, the California NAACP pro-
posed bill AB 781, which grants that city, county, or state governmental entities shall
not discriminate against an employee or an applicant for employment on the basis of the
ability of the employee or applicant to speak a language other than English, unless an
ability to speak a language other than English constitutes a bona fide occupational quali-
fication.9 California Conference NAACP President, Alice Huffman, says that Blacks
of the state are not well-versed in non-English languages and supports changing the
law so that public agencies will seek multilingual applicants only when there is a dem-
onstrated need (California State Conference of the NAACP 2009).
On May 7, 2009, the City of Oakland released a bill analysis opposing AB 781
and therein noted that the bill would have no positive impact on Oakland and that the
city considers the bill a “direct attack” on the municipal’s innovative policy. The city
unanimously passed a resolution directing the City Administrator and the City’s legis-
lative lobbyist to advocate in opposition of the bill. Rather than debate or vote on the
bill authored by Republican Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries, the Democratic-dominated
judiciary committee altered AB 781 to a two-year bill on May 12, 2009 (Assembly
Committee on Judiciary 2009). This decision pushed back discussion for the following
calendar year but raised the question of whether there is a need for statewide legisla-
tion placing such an impetus on public agencies. A review of California legislation
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Abigail A. Sewell

indicates that AB 781, as it was originally written, died on the third reading of the State
Senate on November 30, 2010.

HYPOTHESES

This study examines the intended and unintended impacts of the nation’s first local
government bilingual employment policy. For instance, do bilingual workers targeted
by the policy increase their representation in the types of highlighted occupations
by ameliorating ethnoracial disparities in access to public services? Do such targeted
workers enjoy broader access to the public administration sector beyond the targeted
jobs? Moreover, do any specific ethnoracial groups face added challenges to public contact
position or the public administration sector in the years during bilingual employment
policy implementation?
This study seeks to satisfy two aims: 1) identify whether, and the extent to which,
bilingual employment policy yielded favorable increases in bilingual Spanish and
Chinese workers employed in “public contact occupations” within local government
public administration (intended consequence); and 2) identify whether, and the extent
to which, the bilingual employment policy yielded unfavorable decreases in workers
from any other ethnoracial group employed in these same types of jobs (unintended
consequence). At primary issue, then, is the evaluation of a labor policy that might, in its
implementation, have a push-pull effect on ethnoracial labor market segmentation,
where a loss of local government public contact occupations for a specific ethnoracial
group within the public administration sector (“targeted jobs) occurs on behalf of
Spanish and Chinese-speaking bilinguals (“targeted workers”) – that is, respective losses
and gains must co-occur. The satisfaction of these two aims comprises both sides of
a zero-sum labor market quandary presented by legal mediations of Oakland’s bilingual
employment policy as reflected by the discriminatory enforcement perspective.10
The pull effect captures the intended impact of Oakland’s bilingual employment
policy. It was anticipated that Spanish/Chinese targeted bilinguals would experience
increases within public contact positions in the public administration sector among
local government employees. However, it may be that due to heightened calls for
bilingual workers by local government employees, a larger number of bilingual work-
ers who speak a wide variety of languages other than English may have applied for
local government jobs overall. As such, more diffused effects may be found among
local government employees, among public contact positions by local government
employees, and among local government employees of the public administration
sector workers. As such, three potential hypotheses are considered:

1) There has been an increase in targeted Spanish/Chinese bilingual speakers among


local government workers after the implementation of Oakland’s bilingual employ-
ment policy.
2) There has been an increase in targeted Spanish/Chinese bilingual speakers among
public contact positions in local government after the implementation of Oakland’s
bilingual employment policy.
3) There has been an increase in targeted Spanish/Chinese bilingual speakers within
the public administration sector among local government employees after the
implementation of Oakland’s bilingual employment policy.

The legal debate has focused on the push effect of the EAO on Black monolingual
English speakers, as they are the ethnoracial group in Alameda County least versed in
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(Un)Intended Consequences

Spanish and Chinese. The unintended effect is that there will be a lower representation
of Black monolingual English speakers in targeted jobs—public contact positions in
the public administration sector offered by local government employees. However,
more diffused effects may also be expected if heightened calls for bilingual workers
signaled a decreased value of monolingualism among local government employees.
As such, three potential hypotheses are considered with this group in mind:

4) Black monolingual English workers have transferred from local government


employers to non-local government employers after the implementation of
Oakland’s bilingual employment policy.
5) Among local government employers, Black monolingual English workers have
higher attrition rates from public contact occupations than targeted bilingual
workers.
6) Among local government employers, Black monolingual English workers have
higher attrition rates from the public administration sector than targeted bilingual
workers.

DATA

As there is no publicly available administrative data from the City of Oakland able to
address the concerns of this paper, this study extracts data about California residents
from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series—USA (IPUMS-USA) (Ruggles
et al., 2010). The 5% Census sample and the 2005–2011 American Community
Survey are employed to examine the labor market impact of the EAO passed in
Oakland, CA on May 8, 2001. The sample focuses on working age adults from eighteen
to fifty-nine years old because workers in this age range mostly are not eligible for
retirement, which is an admissible reason for attrition inequalities according to the
EAO policy. Specifically, the analysis examines the changing ethnoracial distribu-
tions of local government employees within targeted occupations and industries
between 2000 and 2005–2011.

Alameda County and The City of Oakland


Given that the smallest identifiable geographical unit for place of work variables avail-
able for public use census and census-related data is the Super Public Use Microdata
Areas (Super PUMAs), the analysis herein focuses on workers in the county where
the City of Oakland is located, Alameda County. PUMAs, a smaller geographic unit
that approximates parts of cities, are used to identify Oakland residents. Because City
of Oakland residents make up only 25% of the labor force within Alameda County
(Ruggles et al., 2010), time of commute is also used to identify persons with the short-
est commute time, which are presumably workers who reside in Alameda County and
near the City of Oakland. Oakland residency and time of commute, then, are included
to provide a better specification of residential factors that may shape occupational and
industry characteristics of interest.
Of the fourteen incorporated cities within Alameda County, the City of Oakland
has the largest full-time payroll at approximately $34.8 million (Census of Government
Employment 2007). Among all local government employees, the City of Oakland’s pay-
roll is only second to that of the Alameda County government. The City of Oakland
government doles out $66.7 million to its full time employees annually. Moreover,
the City of Oakland employs over 41% of all city government employees working in
Alameda County (Census of Government Employment 2007). Accordingly, it can be
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Abigail A. Sewell

expected that just about two-fifths of Alameda County workers evaluated in this study
actually work for the City of Oakland.
A focus on Alameda County workers, instead of Oakland workers, is also warranted
due to sample sizes. Despite the relative size of the City of Oakland’s government,
there are less than 5,200 full-time equivalent employees working for Oakland’s city
government. Accordingly, even if Oakland workers could be identified, the Census’s
5% sample design could at best identify 270 Oakland workers. While an evaluation of
Alameda County workers reduces the likelihood of detecting effects of municipal-level
public policy, it also provides a greater likelihood of specifying effects that are unique
to race, language, and English proficiency, simultaneously.

Dependent Variable
Employment in city government comprises only 20.5% of all local government employ-
ees working in Alameda County. Other types of local government employees include
school districts (41.6%), special districts such as city housing authorities and utility dis-
tricts (19.2%), and Alameda County itself (18.6%). Employment in city government
can be approximated using IPUMS-USA data with the public administration industry
classification. Employment in targeted public contact positions can be approximated
using IPUMS-USA data with a dichotomization of the occupation classification variable
by pertinent characteristics. As such, a cross-classification of industry and occupation
classifications identifies the positions of interest in this study—public contact occupa-
tions in Alameda County public administration.
To capture the interrelationships between employment restructuring within
and outside the local public sector, this study utilizes three dependent variables:
1) working for a local government employee; 2) working in the public administra-
tion sector; and 3) working in public contact positions. The ultimate outcome of
interest—targeted, public contact positions in Alameda County city government—is
identified by successively restricting the sample of interest. The first set of analyses
focuses only on Alameda County workers. Then, the analysis focuses on local gov-
ernment workers in Alameda County. Last, the analysis focuses on local government
workers in public administration (i.e., city government).
To assess the impact of EAO policy on attrition from local government, class of
worker status is assessed for all Alameda County workers. A respondent is considered
to be working for a local government employee if either city or county employers
employ the respondent. As the Census does not distinguish between city, county, and
other types of local government employees, this variable provides the most conservative
estimate of the labor market consequences of Oakland’s EAO.
To assess the impact of EAO policy on attrition from public administration, further
classification of local government employees by the North American Industry Clas-
sification Scheme (NAICS) is made. Industry classification serves to isolate the prob-
ability of working in the municipal- and county-based public administration sector
in contrast to working in the largely non-public administration sectors of special and
school districts. In the sample of eighteen to fifty-nine year olds examined here, nearly
27% of local government employees work in public administration (NAICS codes:
92000–92999). Individuals who work for employers that provide services for the pub-
lic administration sector are not classified as working for the public administration
sector. Sixteen city agencies and departments were targeted to hire sufficient bilingual
staff and report on the progress of EAO implementation. The EAO policy specifies
the following city agency and departments: Community and Economic Development
Agency, City Administrator, City Attorney, City Clerk, City Council, Finance and
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(Un)Intended Consequences

Management, Fire Department, Human Services, Library, Mayor, Museum, Parks and
Recreation, Police Department, Port of Oakland, and Public Works.
To assess the impact of EAO policy on attrition from public contact positions—the
crux of the argument between those who debate the implications of bilingual staff—the
Standard Occupation Classification system (SOC) identifies occupations considered
to include a fair amount of contact with the public. In consideration of which occupa-
tions should be classified as yielding public contact positions, the exact job title of local
government employees was examined to determine whether it fit the types of jobs
explicitly specified in EAO agenda reports. The following occupations have been clas-
sified as “public contact”: Community and Social Service; Legal, Education Training
and Library; Arts, Design, and Entertainment; Healthcare Practitioner and Technical;
Healthcare Support; Protective Service; Food Preparation and Service; Personal Care
and Service; Sales and Sales-Related Service; Office and Administration; and Trans-
portation and Material Moving. The simultaneous consideration of individuals who
are employed in the public administration sector and who are within public contact
occupations provides the central focus sample of the analysis presented herein.

Independent Variables
An indicator for respondents surveyed between 2005 and 2011 assesses the labor market
effects of EAO policy. Small sample sizes preclude assessments of the post-EAO effect
by year. Positive coefficients for this variable indicate a gain in jobs during the 2005–
2011 period. This study differentiates labor market outcomes by ethnoraciality, as indi-
cated by race and ethnicity (Black non-Latino, White non-Latino, Latino, or Asian
and Pacific Islander non-Latino) and primary language spoken in the home (English,
Spanish, Chinese (Cantonese or Mandarin), or Other Language). Respondents are
considered monolingual English speakers if they report speaking only English in the
household. Respondents are considered bilingual if they report speaking a non-English
language primarily at home and speak English very well, well, or not well.
Dummy indicators for the following mutually exclusive ethnoracial categories are
made: Black monolingual English (reference category); White monolingual English;
Latino monolingual English; Asian monolingual English; Spanish/Chinese Bilingual; and
Other Bilingual. Respondents who report speaking English not very well or not at all
are excluded from the analysis. American Indian and Alaska Natives are excluded from
the analysis due to small sample sizes. Positive coefficients for ethnoracial groups indi-
cate they are more likely to hold a specific job type than Black monolinguals.
A number of sociodemographic characteristics have been found to be linked to the likeli-
hood of working in local government, public contact positions, and public administra-
tion. To address possible confounders of the relationships of interest here, the following
attributes are accounted for: age, gender, educational status, residential mobility, geo-
graphic location, time of commute, and marital status. Age is centered at eighteen and
transformed to represent decades. All samples exclude working-age respondents who are
less than eighteen. Gender is assessed with a dummy indicator for identifying as male
(reference: female). Marital status is assessed with a dummy indicator for reporting being
married (reference: separated, widowed, divorced, or never married). Educational status
is measured using a categorical measure of educational attainment (1 = None, 2 = Grades
1–4, 3 = Grade 5–8, 4 = Grade 9, 5 = Grade 10, 6 = Grade 11, 7 = Grade 12; 8 = 1–3 years
of college, 9 = 4+ years of college). Residential factors were assessed with a measure of
residential stability (the recentness with which one occupied current residence, where
1 = always lived at this residential unit; 0 = moved to this residential unit), time of com-
mute, and Oakland residence (using PUMAs identifying the City of Oakland).
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Abigail A. Sewell

Methods of Analysis
First, trends in the ethnoracial profile of Alameda County workers are evaluated.
Second, trends in the ethnoracial profile of different kinds of local government
workers in Alameda County are evaluated. Third, trends in the employment and
demographic characteristics of Alameda County workers are compared across the
six ethnoracial groups: Black monolingual English speakers, White monolingual
English speakers, Latino monolingual English speakers, Asian/Pacific Islander mono-
lingual English speakers, Spanish/Chinese bilingual speakers, and other language
bilingual Spanish/Chinese speakers.
Fourth, using weighted logistic regression, ethnoracial differences in attrition
from local government jobs are explored. Fifth, using weighted logistic regression,
a more detailed examination of attrition patterns from public contact positions for
all sectors of the local government and, specifically, for the local government public
administration sector is undertaken. Sixth, using weighted logistic regression, an exam-
ination of attrition patterns from the public administration sector for all occupations
of the local government and, specifically, for public occupations within local govern-
ment is considered. Seventh and last, using weighted multinomial logistic regression,
an examination of attrition patterns from targeted jobs to other sectors of employment
in Alameda County is considered.
The central focus of the analysis presented herein is an interaction term of
ethnoraciality with the post-EAO dummy indicator. In logistic regression models,
a negative post-EAO coefficient alongside a positive interaction term indicates
that an ethnoracial group is experiencing attrition from an occupation at a lower
rate than Black monolingual English speakers between 2000 and the 2005–2007
period. All models presented adjust for variation that may be due to the aforemen-
tioned sociodemographic factors. Probability weights to account for the nesting of
multiple persons surveyed in households and non-response patterns (PERWT) is
employed in all univariate, bivariate, and multivariate, as is standard with IPUMS-
USA data (Ruggles et al., 2010).

RESULTS

Trends in the Ethnoracial Profile of Alameda County Workers


This paper explores whether there have been changes in the ethnoracial profile of the
Alameda County labor market that are associated with the passing of the nation’s first-
ever municipal-level bilingual employment policy. How has the ethnoracial profile of
Alameda County workers changed over time? Figure 2 shows the ethnoracial distribu-
tion of Alameda County workers before and after the bilingual employment policy.
There has been a decrease in the representation of both Black and White monolin-
gual English speakers, but an increase in the representation of Asian/Pacific Islander
monolingual English speakers, Spanish/Chinese bilinguals, and other bilinguals. Black
monolingual English speakers comprised over 10% of Alameda County workers before
the introduction of the bilingual employment policy. However, after the introduc-
tion of Oakland’s bilingual employment policy, Black monolingual English speakers
comprised only 8% of Alameda County workers. Similarly, White monolingual
English speakers comprised over 47% of Alameda County workers before the bilingual
employment policy. After Oakland’s bilingual employment policy was implemented,
White monolingual English speakers comprised 42.2% of Alameda County workers.
Meanwhile, several ethnoracial groups strengthened their representation among Alam-
eda County workers after the introduction of Oakland’s bilingual employment policy.
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(Un)Intended Consequences

Fig. 2.  Ethnoracial Distributions of Alameda County Workers Before and After the Bilingual
Employment Policy
Source: IPUMS-USA Alameda County Local Government Workers, Ages 18–59, N = 69,277
Notes: Change in period-specific distributions shown (2000 vs. 2005–2011). ACS =
American Community Survey. Estimates based off of supplemental analysis (available up
on request).
* p < 0.05 (two tailed, two-group proportion test).

Specifically, there was a 1.5 percentage point increase in the representation of Asian/
Pacific Islander monolingual English speakers, a 3.3 percentage point increase
in the representation of targeted (i.e., Spanish/Chinese) bilingual speakers, and a
2.8 percentage point increase in the representation of other bilingual speakers.
Overall, Figure 2 tells us that the ethnoracial profile of Alameda County workers
did indeed change after the introduction of the bilingual employment policy. However,
given that representational changes also occurred to ethnoracial groups not expected
to be affected by the policy (e.g., other bilinguals), it is unclear whether the bilin-
gual employment policy itself affected the ethnoracial distribution of Alameda County
workers. A closer look must be taken into the occupational structure most affected by
the bilingual employment policy.
How has the ethnoracial profile of Alameda County workers in local government
changed across time? Figure 3 breaks down unadjusted trends in the ethnoracial profile
of Alameda County workers (Figure 2) by four job types that capture the intersection
of industry sector and occupation type among local government workers, including
those workers in targeted jobs. The length of the bars indicate the magnitude of dif-
ferences in an ethnoracial group’s proportions before and after EAO, where positive
values indicate growing density of an ethnoracial group after EAO and negative values
indicate declining density of an ethnoracial group after EAO. This bivariate analysis
indicates that Black monolingual English speakers experienced declines in all job types
within local government.
However, Figure 3 shows that absolute declines in the representation of Black
monolingual English workers were largest for targeted jobs. In 2000, they represented
25% of the labor force in targeted jobs; yet, between 2005–2011, they represented
less than 16% of the labor force in targeted jobs. There was a 9.3 percentage point
decline in the representation of Black monolinguals after the implementation of
the bilingual employment policy. No other ethnoracial group experienced declines
of such a large magnitude.
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Abigail A. Sewell

Fig. 3.  Change in Ehnoracial Group Distribution by Local Government Job Type
Source: IPUMS-USA Alameda County Local Government Workers, N = 5,694
Notes: Change in period-specific distributions shown (2000 vs. 2005–2007). PAS = Public
Administration Sector; PCO = PCO = Public Contact Organizations; Targeted Jobs are
In PAS/In PCO. API = Asian/Pacific Islander; Estimates based off of descriptive statistics
from Table 1.
* p < 0.05 (two tailed, two-group proportion test).

Instead, Asian/Pacific Islander monolinguals, Spanish/Chinese bilinguals,


and other language bilinguals experienced moderate increases in their representa-
tion within and outside of Alameda County’s local government sector. Targeted
bilinguals, in fact, are the only ethnoracial group to experience relative increases
in their representation across all job types. The magnitude of increase is largest
(5.6 percentage points) for local government jobs outside of public administration
that are not public contact positions.
Together, Figures 2 and 3 present mixed evidence of shifting racial segmenta-
tion in the Alameda County local government. On one hand, Black monolingual
English speakers are experiencing substantial declines in jobs targeted by the
bilingual employment policy. On the other hand, non-targeted ethnoracial groups
(e.g., Asian/Pacific Islander monolingual English speakers) experience moderate
increases in their representation in jobs targeted by the bilingual employment
policy. Meanwhile, targeted bilinguals seem to have increased their representation
across a broad range of local government positions. In sum, there is evidence that
shifts in the ethnoracial profile of local government jobs targeted by EAO policy
have occurred. Yet, it is not clear whether a pull-push dynamic is occurring as sug-
gested by the aforementioned perspectives.

Changes in Demographic Mechanisms by Ethnoracial Group


The next section attends to potential demographic mechanisms underlying the
shifting ethnoracial profile of Alameda County workers. Do ethnoracial groups
differ significantly by key factors related to employment in targeted jobs? How
might the changing characteristics of ethnoracial groups contribute to the changing
ethnoracial profile of Alameda County workers in targeted and non-targeted jobs?
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(Un)Intended Consequences

The remainder of this section explores compositional differences in employment


and demographic factors between targeted workers and Black monolingual English
speakers as possible confounding factors. Table 1 presents descriptive statistics of
the six ethnoracial groups working in Alameda County (AC) for each time period
of interest. The employment and demographic profiles of Black monolingual English
and targeted bilingual employees are compared to other ethnoracial groups.
Table 1 indicates that substantial ethnoracial differences exist in employment
characteristics. For both time periods, Black monolingual English workers are more
likely to work for local government employers, within the public administration
sector, and in public contact occupations than other ethnoracial groups. Targeted
and non-targeted bilingual workers are among the least likely to work for local
government employers, within the public administration sector, and in public con-
tact occupations. The one difference between targeted and non-targeted bilinguals
that could be important to understanding the ethnoracial dynamics of concern here is
related to the distribution of public contact occupations across time. Specifically,
there is no change in the proportion of targeted bilingual workers in public contact
occupations across time; however, there is a substantial and significant increase in
the proportion of non-targeted bilingual workers in public contact occupations
from 51.8 to 54.5%.
Furthermore, ethnoracial differences extend to a broad range of demographic
characteristics. Black monolingual English workers are nearly three years older
than targeted bilingual workers, more likely to be female, less likely to be married
more likely to have a high school degree or some college education, less likely to
have a graduate degree, twice as likely to live in the City of Oakland, and less likely
to have always lived in their current residence. Most of the demographic differ-
ences between Black monolingual English-speaking workers and targeted bilin-
gual workers are temporally consistent.
Two exceptions exist to this pattern: Differences in in-school status emerge
and differences in residential stability become more concrete after the EAO policy.
Specifically, before the EAO policy, about 15% of both Black monolingual English
speakers and targeted bilingual speakers working in Alameda County were currently
in school. There is a decline in this percentage for both groups; yet, the decline is
more severe for targeted bilingual speakers. Similarly, differences in the residen-
tial mobility status become more concrete across time. Black monolingual English
workers appear to be much less residentially stable after the EAO policy than their
targeted bilingual counterparts.
There are significant changes in the demographic profile of Black monolin-
gual English speakers and other ethnoracial groups across time. For instance,
all ethnoracial groups are more likely to have graduate degrees and less likely to
be in school currently after the EAO policy. However, targeted bilinguals are the
only ethnoracial group to not experience a decline in the representation of high
school degrees across time. Meanwhile, Black monolingual English speakers are
the only ethnoracial group that experiences a decline in the representation of the
married across time.
Table 1 indicates that the profiles for the average Black monolingual English
worker and the average targeted bilingual worker are substantially different. The
remainder of the analysis uses multivariate analysis to examine whether the trend
patterns shown in Figures 2 and 3 indeed hold once accounting for temporal and
ethnoracial differences in sociodemographic characteristics. The remaining analysis
further identifies the specific employment dimensions where temporal changes in
ethnoracial segmentation have occurred.
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16 

Abigail A. Sewell
Table 1.  Descriptive Statistics by Ethnoracial Group by 2000 Census and 2005–2011 ACS Respondents Who Work in Alameda County, N = 69,277

Monolingual Bilingual
du bois review: social science research on race 2017

Spanish/Chinese
Black White Latino API (Targeted) Other Language

2000 2005–11 2000 2005–11 2000 2005–11 2000 2005–11 2000 2005–11 2000 2005–11
Census ACS Census ACS Census ACS Census ACS Census ACS Census ACS

Local Government Employee 0.141 0.144 0.083a,b 0.092a,b 0.076a,b 0.102a,b 0.073a,b 0.094a,b 0.051a 0.057a 0.051a 0.052a
Public Administration Sector 0.082 0.074 0.043a,b 0.050a,b 0.043a,b 0.057a,b 0.048a,b 0.052a,b 0.026a 0.027a 0.025a 0.03a
Public Contact Occupations 0.683 0.691 0.55a,b 0.548a,b 0.593a,b 0.619a,b 0.541a,b 0.571a,b 0.501a 0.506a 0.518a 0.545a,b
Age 38.714 40.749 40.432a,b 42.246a,b 35.365a,b 37.614a,b 37.076a,b 38.157a 36.018a 38.332a 37.989a,b 40.713b
Male 0.451 0.449 0.552a,b 0.551a,b 0.567a 0.530a,b 0.546a,b 0.518a,b 0.589a 0.573a 0.549a,b 0.525a,b
Married 0.386 0.339 0.548 a,b 0.569 a,b 0.480a,b 0.476a,b 0.518a,b 0.535a,b 0.594a 0.610a 0.637a,b 0.693a,b
Born 1940–1949 0.166 0.034 0.210 a,b 0.042 a,b 0.106a 0.011 a,b 0.131a 0.023 a 0.113a 0.019a 0.143a,b 0.027b
Born 1950–1959 0.292 0.267 0.309b 0.317a,b 0.220a 0.203a 0.258a,b 0.209a 0.229a 0.194a 0.270a,b 0.252b
Born 1960–1969 0.278 0.293 0.272 b 0.289 b 0.301 0.270 0.293 0.241 a,b 0.307a 0.275 0.313a 0.301
Born 1970–1979 0.216 0.218 0.175 a,b 0.199 a,b 0.291 a 0.238 b 0.256 a,b 0.277 a 0.294a 0.290a 0.228b 0.259a,b
Born 1980–1993 0.048 0.188 0.034 a,b 0.153 a,b 0.082 a,b 0.279 a,b 0.062 0.249 0.057 0.223a 0.046b 0.161a,b
Less than High School 0.006 0.006 0.004b 0.003a,b 0.037a,b 0.016a,b 0.016a,b 0.008b 0.142a 0.121a 0.028a,b 0.025a,b
High School Incomplete 0.088 0.038 0.043 a,b 0.021 a,b 0.104 b 0.058 a,b 0.030 a,b 0.018 a,b 0.158a 0.108a 0.072a,b 0.041b
High School Degree 0.332 0.304 0.247 a 0.204 a,b 0.394 a,b 0.346 a,b 0.176 a,b 0.151 a,b 0.256a 0.280a 0.205a,b 0.183a,b
Some College 0.363 0.377 0.268a,b 0.248a,b 0.291a,b 0.314a,b 0.272a,b 0.238a,b 0.197a 0.186a 0.237a,b 0.231a,b
College Degree 0.140 0.176 0.267a,b 0.312a,b 0.121b 0.193 0.327a,b 0.374a,b 0.148 0.177 0.291a,b 0.320a,b
Graduate Degree 0.071 0.098 0.172 a,b 0.212 a,b 0.052 a,b 0.073 a,b 0.179a,b 0.212a,b 0.100a 0.127a 0.167a,b 0.200a,b

Continued
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Table 1. continued

Monolingual Bilingual

Spanish/Chinese
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Black White Latino API (Targeted) Other Language

2000 2005–11 2000 2005–11 2000 2005–11 2000 2005–11 2000 2005–11 2000 2005–11
Census ACS Census ACS Census ACS Census ACS Census ACS Census ACS
In School 0.150 0.130 0.107a,b 0.099a,b 0.153 0.138b 0.188a,b 0.148b 0.148 0.108a 0.158 0.120
Oakland Resident 0.459 0.408 0.112a,b 0.137a,b 0.108a,b 0.110a,b 0.115a,b 0.120a,b 0.220a 0.207a 0.125a,b 0.098a,b
Always Lived in Residence 0.435 0.407 0.427b 0.439a,b 0.552a 0.528a 0.532a 0.518a 0.546a 0.528a 0.542a 0.526a
In Current Residence 0.122 0.169 0.115 0.129a 0.101a 0.142a 0.101a 0.139a 0.111 0.126a 0.132b 0.134a,b
Less than 2 Years
In Current Residence 0.442 0.424 0.458b 0.431b 0.347a 0.329 0.368a 0.343a 0.343a 0.346a 0.326a 0.340a
More than 2 Years
Observations 3,169 3,157 14,170 16,636 1,507 2,037 1,273 2,303 5,342 8,373 4,399 6,911

(Un)Intended Consequences
Notes: Means and proportions presented. ACS = American Community Survey. Bolded text indicates that means/proportions in ACS 2005–2011 are significantly different than
those for corresponding respondent in 2000 Census (p < 0.05; two-tailed test).
ap < 0.05 (two-tailed test; significantly different from Black monolingual English speakers in corresponding period).
bp < 0.05 (two-tailed test; significantly different from Spanish/Chinese bilingual [targeted] speakers in corresponding period).
17
Abigail A. Sewell

Multivariate Analysis
Local Government Employees
Table 2 presents results to assess Hypotheses 1 and 4: that movement in and out of the
local government sector across the study period occurred differentially by ethnoracial-
ity. Model 1 demonstrates the ethnoracial profile of local government workers aver-
aged over the two time periods, while Model 2 demonstrates whether the ethnoracial
profile of local government workers changes after the implementation of the bilin-
gual employment policy. Estimates for both models include controls for demographic
factors discussed previously (available upon request). Holding demographic factors
constant, Model 1 estimates the ethnoracial profile of local government with dummy
indicators; the reference category is Black monolingual English speaker. The negative

Table 2.  Weighted Logistic Coefficients for the Regression of Local Government Employment
on Time, Ethnoraciality, and the Differential Effect of Ethnoraciality across Time, Holding
Constant Sociodemographic Attributes, 2000 Census and 2005–2011 ACS Respondents Who
Work in Alameda County, Ages 18–59, N = 69,277

Model 1 Model 2

After Equal Access Ordinance (2005–2011 ACS) -0.007 -0.063


(0.059) (0.096)
White Monolingual -0.599*** -0.662***
(0.064) (0.068)
Latino Monolingual -0.298** -0.419***
(0.098) (0.120)
API Monolingual -0.592*** -0.831***
(0.100) (0.130)
Spanish/Chinese Bilingual -0.867*** -0.894***
(0.078) (0.092)
Other Bilingual -1.178*** -1.146***
(0.082) (0.096)
White Monolingual X After Equal Access Ordinance 0.073
(0.095)
Latino Monolingual X After Equal Access Ordinance 0.136
(0.160)
API Monolingual X After Equal Access Ordinance 0.264
(0.166)
Spanish/Chinese Bilingual X After Equal Access Ordinance 0.033
(0.122)
Other Bilingual X After Equal Access Ordinance -0.034
(0.128)
Observations 69,277 69,277
BIC 2,534,105 2,534,018
AIC 2,533,894 2,533,762

Notes: ACS = American Community Survey; Raw coefficients shown. Standard errors in parentheses.
Reference category for ethnoraciality is Black monolingual English speakers. All models also control
for age, male gender, marital status, birth year cohort, educational attainment, in school status, Oakland
residency, and residential stability.
*p < 0.05, **p < 0.01, ***p < 0.001 (two-tailed test).

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(Un)Intended Consequences

direction of the five dummy indicators for ethnoraciality indicates that Black mono-
lingual English speakers comprise a larger share of local government employees than
their demographically similar counterparts of other ethnoracial groups. In 2000, Black
monolingual English workers were more likely to work for local government employ-
ers than for other types of employers in Alameda County.
The period term for both Models 1 and 2 is non-significant, which indicates that the
proportion of local government employees among Alameda County workers remains
consistent between 2000 and 2005–2011. The interaction terms between ethnoracial
group membership and period of study added in Model 2 of Table 2 estimate whether
there is a temporal shift in the probability of local government employment by eth-
noracial group after the implementation of the EAO policy. None of these interaction
terms yields significant effects. As such, Black monolingual English workers were no
more likely than targeted bilinguals, or any other ethnoracial group, to leave (or come to)
local government jobs after the implementation of EAO policy. As such, Hypotheses
1 and 4 are not supported. After the bilingual employment policy, the representation
of Black monolingual English speakers in local government jobs did not decrease nor
did the representation of targeted bilingual speakers increase.

Public Contact Positions


Among local government employees, do Black monolingual English workers have
higher attrition rates from public contact occupations than targeted bilingual workers?
Table 3 presents results from an analysis to assess Hypotheses 2 and 5, respectively:
targeted bilingual local government employees have lower attrition rates from public
contact positions after the implementation of EAO policy, while Black monolingual
English local government employees have higher attrition rates from these same public
contact positions. Two sets of analyses are presented in Table 3: the first, shown in the
Models 1 and 2, focuses on all local government workers; and the second, shown in
Models 3 and 4, focuses only on local government workers in the public administration
sector as dictated by NAICS. Models 1 and 3, respectively, show the ethnoracial profile
of employees in public contact positions averaged over the two periods of study, while
Models 2 and 4 demonstrate whether the ethnoracial profile of employees in public
contact position varies significantly across time.
The non-significant period indicator confirms that there are no temporal changes
in the proportion of local government employees in public contact positions. In 2000,
few ethnoracial differences existed in the likelihood of working in public contact occupa-
tions within local government. Targeted bilinguals are 28% ([1 – exp(-0.330)]x100%)
less likely than Black monolingual English speakers to work in public contact occupa-
tions within local government (Model 1, Table 3). However, there are no statistically
significant changes to the ethnoracial profile of public contact positions across time.
When the sample is restricted to local government workers in the public admin-
istration sector, these patterns largely hold. If anything, targeted bilinguals and Asian
monolingual English speakers are even less represented in public contact occupations
within the public administration sector of the local government than outside the pub-
lic administration sector of the local government. Within the public administration
sector (Model 4, Table 3), the estimated coefficient for the targeted bilingual workers
X period interaction term is in the expected direction (positive, large, and counterbal-
ancing the main negative effect). However, the interaction term is not significant.
As such, little support is found for Hypotheses 2 and 5—there are no temporal shifts
in the ethnoracial profile of public contact occupations within the local government or
within the local government public administration sector.
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Abigail A. Sewell

Table 3.  Weighted Logistic Coefficients for the Regression of Public Contact Position
Employment on Time, Ethnoraciality, and the Differential Effect of Ethnoraciality across
Time, Holding Constant Sociodemographic Attributes, 2000 Census and 2005–2011 ACS
Respondents Who Work in Alameda County, Ages 18–59

Local Government
Local Government Workers in the Public
Workers Administration Sector

Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4

After Equal Access Ordinance 0.047 0.244 -0.312 -0.585


(0.122) (0.207) (0.236) (0.385)
White Monolingual 0.138 0.290 -0.035 -0.377
(0.138) (0.153) (0.252) (0.287)
Latino Monolingual 0.002 0.246 0.495 -0.204
(0.214) (0.276) (0.458) (0.588)
API Monolingual -0.259 0.305 -0.295 -1.045*
(0.209) (0.301) (0.415) (0.494)
Spanish/Chinese Bilingual -0.330* 0.114 -0.931** -1.129**
(0.163) (0.199) (0.304) (0.384)
Other Bilingual -0.189 -0.149 -0.289 -0.196
(0.177) (0.204) (0.355) (0.428)
White Monolingual X After -0.178 0.399
Equal Access Ordinance
(0.206) (0.375)
Latino Monolingual X After -0.280 0.791
Equal Access Ordinance
(0.356) (0.760)
API Monolingual X After -0.623 0.830
Equal Access Ordinance
(0.371) (0.662)
Spanish/Chinese Bilingual X -0.503 0.235
After Equal Access Ordinance
(0.263) (0.493)
Other Bilingual X After -0.051 -0.084
Equal Access Ordinance
(0.274) (0.559)
Observations 5,694 5,694 1,596 1,596
BIC 414,535 414,357 116,092 115,998
AIC 414,375 414,164 115,968 115,848

Notes: ACS = American Community Survey; Raw coefficients shown. Standard errors in parentheses.
Reference category for ethnoraciality is Black monolingual English speakers. All models also control
for age, male gender, marital status, birth year cohort, educational attainment, in school status, Oakland
residency, and residential stability.
*p < 0.05, **p < 0.01, ***p < 0.001 (two-tailed test).

Public Administration Sector


Among local government employees, do Black monolingual English workers have
higher attrition rates from the public administration sector than targeted bilingual
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(Un)Intended Consequences

workers? Table 4 presents the results of analysis to assess Hypotheses 3 and 6, respec-
tively: that targeted bilingual local government employees have lower attrition rates
from the public administration sector after the implementation of EAO policy, while

Table 4.  Weighted Logistic Coefficients for the Regression of Public Administration Sector
Employment on Time, Ethnoraciality, and the Differential Effect of Ethnoraciality across
Time, Holding Constant Sociodemographic Attributes, 2000 Census and 2005–2011 ACS
Respondents Who Work in Alameda County, Ages 18–59

Local Government
Local Government Workers in Public
Workers Contact Positions

Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4

After Equal Access Ordinance 0.000 -0.411* -0.202 -0.842***


(0.126) (0.201) (0.158) (0.254)
White Monolingual -0.201 -0.628*** -0.143 -0.787***
(0.133) (0.149) (0.164) (0.187)
Latino Monolingual -0.003 -0.242 0.246 -0.378
(0.208) (0.255) (0.259) (0.299)
API Monolingual 0.050 -0.441 0.152 -0.876*
(0.205) (0.274) (0.253) (0.344)
Spanish/Chinese Bilingual -0.418* -0.948*** -0.549** -1.397***
(0.165) (0.204) (0.208) (0.258)
Other Bilingual -0.124 -0.730** -0.029 -0.793**
(0.176) (0.231) (0.218) (0.290)
White Monolingual X After 0.499* 0.749**
Equal Access Ordinance
(0.200) (0.248)
Latino Monolingual X After 0.283 0.719
Equal Access Ordinance
(0.337) (0.407)
API Monolingual X After 0.563 1.165**
Equal Access Ordinance
(0.347) (0.435)
Spanish/Chinese Bilingual 0.610* 0.974**
X After Equal Access Ordinance
(0.269) (0.342)
Other Bilingual X After 0.697* 0.879*
Equal Access Ordinance
(0.295) (0.372)
Observations 5,694 5,694 4,210 4,210
BIC 424,422 424,038 288,694 288,076
AIC 424,262 423,845 288,548 287,898

Notes: ACS = American Community Survey; Raw coefficients shown. Standard errors in parentheses.
Reference category for ethnoraciality is Black monolingual English speakers. All models also control
for age, male gender, marital status, birth year cohort, educational attainment, in school status, Oakland
residency, and residential stability.
*p < 0.05, **p < 0.01, ***p < 0.001 (two-tailed test).

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Abigail A. Sewell

Black monolingual English local government employees have higher attrition rates from
the public administration sector. Two sets of analyses are presented in Table 4: the first,
shown in the Models 1 and 2, focuses on all local government workers; and the second,
shown in Models 3 and 4, focuses only on local government workers in the public con-
tact occupations as dictated by SOC. Models 1 and 3 show the ethnoracial profile of
employees in the public administration sector averaged over the two periods of study,
while Models 2 and 4 demonstrate whether the ethnoracial profile of employees in the
public administration sector varies significantly across time.
The non-significant period indicator in Model 1 indicates that there are no temporal
changes in the proportion of local government employees in the public administration
sector (Table 4). In 2000, few ethnoracial differences existed in the likelihood of work-
ing in the public administration sector within local government. Targeted bilinguals are
34% ([1 – exp(-0.418)]x100%) less likely than Black monolingual English speakers to
work in the public administration sector within local government (Model 1, Table 4).
Model 2 of Table 4, however, indicates that there are statistically significant tem-
poral changes to the ethnoracial profile of the public administration sector. First, once
temporal variation in the ethnoracial profile of public administration workers are con-
sidered, the period term is negative and significant. A negative period terms suggests
that the representation of Black monolingual English workers (the reference group)
declined after the implementation of the bilingual employment policy.
Second, there are negative and significant main effect terms for White monolin-
gual English speakers, targeted bilingual speakers, and other bilingual speakers coupled
with positive and significant interaction terms for these groups. The negative and sig-
nificant main effect terms suggest that White monolingual English speakers, targeted
bilingual speakers, and other bilingual speakers were less represented in public admin-
istration in 2000 than Black monolingual English speakers. The interaction terms for
White monolingual English, targeted bilingual, and other bilingual speakers, though
positive and significant, are smaller in absolute value than the main effects terms for
these groups. Together, the interaction and main effects terms suggest a significant
degree of equalization in the likelihood of public administration sector employment
across ethnoracial group. However, since the absolute value of the interaction term is
smaller than the absolute value of the main effects terms, there does not appear to be
any increases in the representation of White monolingual English speakers, targeted
bilinguals, or other bilinguals.
Similar patterns are found when restricting the sample to local government workers
in public contact positions (Models 3 and 4 of Table 4). However, the interaction terms
for targeted bilinguals and other bilinguals are larger in absolute value than the main
effects terms for these ethnoracial groups (Model 4, Table 4). The interaction terms for
these two groups are also larger than the period effect term. As such, it appears that there
was an increase in the proportion of targeted bilinguals and other bilinguals in public
administration sector after the implementation of the bilingual employment policy.
To graphically illustrate the findings from Model 4 of Table 4, predicted prob-
abilities of public administration sector employment among the sample of local
government workers in public contact occupations are simulated across ethnora-
cial groups with covariates set at sample means. Figure 4 provides a graphical depic-
tion of the predicted probabilities of ethnoracial group representation before and
after EAO policy. Thus, Figure 4 illustrates adjusted depictions of the trend patterns
shown in the darkest bar of Figure 3.
Holding all else constant, the results indicate an 18 percentage point decline in the
representation of Black monolingual English speakers in the public administration sector
among local government workers in public contact occupations after the introduction
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(Un)Intended Consequences

of EAO policy. The change that Black monolingual English speakers experience is
statistically distinct from negative changes that White and Latino monolinguals
experience and from positive changes that Asian/Pacific Islander monolinguals,
targeted bilinguals, and other bilinguals experience. This change is also substantially
greater than the 9.3 percentage point decline in the representation of Black mono-
lingual English speakers in the public administration sector among local government
workers in public contact positions shown in Figure 3. These patterns suggest that
demographic mechanisms do not account for ethnoracial trends in labor market seg-
mentation, rather ethnoracial differences are more pronounced among demographically
comparable workers.
In sum, strong support is found for Hypothesis 6: Black monolingual English
local government employees are less likely to occupy jobs within the public admin-
istration sector after the implementation of EAO policy than before implementation.
Meanwhile, limited support is found for Hypothesis 3: targeted bilingual workers
experience homeostasis in their public administration sector representation within
the local government, and small gains in access to the public administration sector
within local government public contact occupations. Overall, Black’s stronghold
in public administration appears to be weakening over time.

CONCLUSION

This study examines the ethnoracial redistribution of Alameda County workers


to provide a broader context upon which to draw assessments of the impact of
bilingual employment policies on labor market segmentation by race, language,

Fig. 4.  Likelihood of Public Administration Sector Employment Before and After EAO Poicy
by Ethnoracial Group
Source: IPUMS-USA Alameda County Local Government Workers in Public Contact Occupations,
N = 4,210.
Notes: Predicted percents shown based on weighted logistic coefficients from Model 4 Table 5.
All other covariates set to sample means. API = Asian/Pacific Islanders; ACS = American Com-
munity Survey.
* p < 0.05 (two tailed test; statistically significant period effect).
a p < 0.05 (two tailed test; significantly different from period effect for Black monolingual

English speakers (column 1)).

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Abigail A. Sewell

and English proficiency. The results indicate that targeted bilingual speakers—those
who spoke Spanish/Chinese as well as English well or very well—did experience
increases in their representation within the public administration sector of the local
government, especially among public contact positions within the local government.
The increase in targeted bilingual speakers from 2000 to 2005–2011 made up for their
lack of representation in 2000. There were no comparable increases in targeted bilin-
gual speakers in other sectors of the economy. The results also indicate that language-
based policies reduced the representation of Black monolingual English speakers in
the public administration sector after the implementation of bilingual employment
policy. Specifically, such workers are less likely to be represented in public contact
occupations within the local government’s public administration sector after the EAO
policy than before the EAO policy.
This paper provides an empirical example of the labor market dynamics associated
with Black-Brown political tension in contemporary multiracial urban areas (Bobo and
Hutchings, 1996; Kaufmann 2007). These results are important to consider as they
highlight evidence by which Blacks could perceive immigrants as a political and eco-
nomic threat (McClain et al., 2007). In an area where access to public administration
is constricted and perceived as a zero-sum process, coalitions organized around bilin-
gual employment policies fell along ethnoracial lines—English-only speaking Blacks
versus Latinos and Asians. Moreover, the material and symbolic incentives to public
administrative access in this case are ethnoracially group-specific for both sides of the
political struggle, not merely individual. The Black/Brown political divide finds some
support in evidence on employment outcomes after the bilingual policy implementation.
However, the results also suggest that other groups—especially, Asian monolinguals
and other bilinguals—may have witnessed some diffused benefits from the policy to an
extent as well. These non-targeted ethnoracial groups experienced trends similar
to that of targeted bilinguals; yet, their representations in public contact employment
within public administration only increased marginally.
There are several limitations to this study. First, the study uses primary language spo-
ken in the home as a measure of bilingualism. However, respondents may be fluent in a
non-English language but not speak that language primarily at home. This imprecision
in identifying bilinguals in the census and census-related data should weaken the effect of
bilingualism as it is currently measured. It is expected that there would be a larger number
of persons identified as bilingual Spanish, Chinese, or other language speakers were bilin-
gualism able to be measured more broadly. It is likely that using primary language spoken
in the household resulted in conservative estimates of targeted language speakers, as
there would be less differences between targeted language speakers and non-targeted lan-
guage speakers if bilingual speakers who do not speak targeted languages in the homes are
included among non-targeted language speakers. It is also likely that the gains in targeted
positions experienced by non-Black monolinguals reflect the imprecision of the bilingual
measure—namely, some monolinguals are versed in Spanish or Chinese but do not speak
these languages at home. Thereby, they are able to meet the bilingual language require-
ment of targeted positions but are classified in the study as monolinguals.
Second, this study would benefit from disentangling race and ethnicity further.
Small samples sizes, for instance, precluded a detailed assessment of Black bilinguals.
Moreover, supplementary analysis (available upon request) suggested that Spanish and
Chinese bilinguals could be grouped together to evaluate the effect of the bilingual
employment policy on targeted groups, as a whole. Nonetheless, there may be ethnora-
cial variance in the effects of demographic mechanisms on employment characteristics
that are distinct by race, language, and English proficiency categories, which may be
contributing to the overall patterns uncovered.
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(Un)Intended Consequences

In the twenty-first century, the economy has largely settled into a service economy,
and the Black middle class (for the most part) has left Oakland in their migration back to
the southern United States and to outlying Bay Area neighborhoods. This study suggests
that Black workers’ stronghold in service-centered jobs in the Bay Area has weakened.
Moreover, this study suggests that language-based policies may have racialized effects
on the employability of ethnoracial groups marginalized by monolingualism. For instance,
this study clearly shows that Asian monolinguals benefitted from multicultural policies
focused on language, while Black monolinguals did not. Future research should assess the
impact of language-based policies on the earning potential of targeted and non-targeted
workers. Future research should also replicate this study for the municipalities that have
implemented similar language-based policies since Oakland. This will provide a clearer
picture as to whether the findings illustrated in this study are generalizable to other locales.

Corresponding author: Dr. Abigail A. Sewell, Emory University, Department of Sociology, 204 Tarbutton
Hall, 1555 Dickey Drive, Atlanta, GA 30322. Email: abigail.a.sewell@emory.edu

ACKNOWLEDGMENT
The author thanks Quincy Thomas Stewart, Rashawn Ray, Fabio Rojas, Aarti Kohli, and Steven
Pitts for helpful comments. The author was supported by a Vice Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowship
in the Population Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania during the writing of this paper.
The author was supported by a Social Science Internship at the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute
for Race, Ethnicity, and Diversity at the University of California, Berkeley Boalt School of Law
during the collection of data for this paper.

NOTES
1. Government Code 7290 et sq, 7292, 7293, and 7296.4
2. Oakland Ordinance #12324
3. Oakland Ordinance #12324 C.M.S. Section 2.30.020–g
4. Government Code 7294 and Oakland Ordinance #12324
5. Specifically, these equal opportunity provisions were conjectured to be: Executive Order
11246, Title VI and VII, the Civil Rights Act of 1991, the Uniform Guidelines for Employee
Selection Procedures, the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Equal
Opportunity and Affirmative Action Guidelines, state and federal Equal Pay Act(s), Article
I of the California Constitution (Proposition 209), the California Fair Employment and
Housing Act, the Dymally-Altorre Bilingual Services Act, the Oakland City Charter, Article
IX, Personnel Administration (Sections 900(a) and (b)), and the hiring and promotion provi-
sions of the City’s bargaining agreements (City Administrator’s Office-Equal Opportunity
Programs Division 2007).
6. Edgerly’s actual lawsuit, however, claimed wrongful termination on the basis of gender
discrimination by then-Mayor Ronald Dellums, a Black man. Her testimonies indicate that
she also refused to go along with requests Dellums made of her to violate the city charter,
which guaranteed non-discrimination based off race and ethnicity. Two Alameda County
juries dismissed these claims (Lee 2011; Parks 2011). A majority of the City Council, however,
did pay Thompson, Edgerly’s assistant, $500,000 to dismiss her wrongful termination suit
(Matier and Ross, 2011).
7.  Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424 (1971); Albermale v. Moody, 422 U.S. 405 (1975).
8. San Francisco Ordinance No 126–01; Philadelphia Executive Order 04–01 and 09–08;
Minneapolis Resolution 2003–R547; Monterey Park Administrative Policy 10–35; New York
Local Law 73 and Executive Order 120; Washington DC Language Access Act of 2004;
Seattle Executive Order-01–07.
9. AB 781, Bill Analysis (Assembly Committee on Judiciary 2009).
10. See Kaufmann 2007 for broader discussion of zero-sum processes.

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Abigail A. Sewell

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