Apparently in Iowa, math is hard. At least for some lawyers.
Setting aside the dubious notion of “subconscious discrimination” at the heart of a class-action lawsuit filed by over ten percent of the adult black population of the state of Iowa against their own government, the numbers simply do not add up.
During a monthlong trial last fall, experts called by the plaintiffs’ lawyers testified that blacks are hired at lower rates than whites with similar qualifications and receive less favorable evaluations and lower starting salaries. An employment consultant hired by the administration of Gov. Tom Vilsack, who served from 1999 to 2007, warned of hiring disparities between whites and minorities in a report issued after he left office. Larkin called that report a strong “and pretty unusual piece of evidence” proving the state was aware of problems.
Vilsack’s successor, Democratic Gov. Chet Culver, responded by issuing an executive order requiring agencies to improve the diversity of the workforce. State officials called that evidence of progress, but class lawyers argued it turned out to be ineffective because rules meant to prevent bias still were not followed.
Republican Gov. Terry Branstrad said last fall his administration had ensured agencies were following uniform rules to stop any abuse — but a top state employment official testified days later he’d seen no substantive changes to hiring practices in years. Blacks represented 2.9 percent of the state’s population in 2010 and 2.4 percent of the state workforce.
Total Population: 3,046,355
Total Black Population: 89,148
Blacks In Elementary & High Schools: 25,979 (29.1%)
Blacks Under Age 5: 9,182 (10.3%)
Blacks Persons Under 18 (approximate): 35,161 (39.4%)
Although it is possible that some children under 5 were enrolled in elementary schools and that some high school students were eligible for civil service positions, the total number of these situations is likely so low as to not have a great effect on the final outcome. This effectively leaves 53,987 blacks (89,148 – 35,161), or 60.6% of the black population of the state of Iowa, eligible to seek civil service employment (I have not excluded those over any particular age).
Conversely, let’s look at the rest of Iowa.
Total Population: 3,046,355
Total Non-Black Population: 3,046,355 – 89,148 = 2,957,207
Persons Under 18: 728,079
Non-Black Persons Under 18: 728,079 – 35,161 = 692,918
Again, it is possible that some people under 18 are already eligible for civil service positions while others over 18 are not, but those situations, compared to the total number of people, are likely negligible. This leaves approximately 2,264,289 non-black Iowa residents (2,957,207 – 692,918) eligible to seek civil service employment.
So what should Iowa’s civil service look like?
Black: 53,987 / (53,987 + 2,264,389) = 2.33% (remember 2.4%)
Non-Black: 2,264,389 / (53,987 + 2,264,389) = 97.67%
So the problem is not discrimination, subconscious or otherwise. The problem is the inability of everyone involved to understand what “2.9% of the population” means, and that the black population of Iowa is a much younger population than the rest of the state.