White Staffers on Capitol Hill Make Thousands More Each Year than Staffers of Color
WASHINGTON, Wednesday, April 11, 2018 – Capitol Hill pays white staffers substantially more than staffers of color, a new study found. According to a new LegiStorm analysis of congressional salaries, in the U.S. House of Representatives, white staffers take home an annual salary averaging $900 more than Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) staffers, $2,000 more than Latino staffers, and $3,500 more than black staffers. In the Senate, white staffers made approximately $4,800 more than AAPI staffers, $1,800 more than Latino staffers and $7,000 more than Black staffers.
This disparity is even more apparent in senior roles. Non-white chiefs of staff make an average of $7,580 less in the House and $2,330 less in the Senate compared to their white counterparts. Non-white legislative directors make $1,630 less in the House and $5,690 less in the Senate. Among communications staffers, white communications staffers are paid an average of $6,350 more in the House and $4,420 more in the Senate than non-white staffers.
In December 2015, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies conducted a study on Racial Diversity Among Top Senate Staff. In a nation that was 36% people of color, just 7.1% of senior Senate staffers were people of color, defined as chief of staff, legislative director, communications director, and committee staff director. Since then, the Joint Center and other stakeholders have been organizing and leading a movement to increase diversity and inclusion in the legislative branch, which has resulted in some important gains, but still not enough.
Quotes from Joint Center Leadership
Spencer Overton, President, Joint Center: “The data today shows that Congress faces critical challenges when it comes to creating a diverse and inclusive environment that will attract staffers of color. The Joint Center applauds LegiStorm for this important work and looks forward to hearing additional insights from them and sharing our own as we complete a report on racial diversity among top US House of Representatives staff this year.”
Don Bell, Director, Black Talent Initiative: “Today, the Congress as a whole has been exposed again. Not only is Capitol Hill failing to actively recruit and hire eminently qualified people of color, it is failing to fairly value the experiences and service of its very own staffers of color, some of the most talented policy and communications minds our nation has to offer. Pay equity is a fundamental tenant of our movement for diversity and inclusion. Congress will not be truly inclusive if it continues to refuse valuing staffers of color as much as their white peers. We will continue the fight, every day, until Congress becomes a truly representative body. We will work with offices that desire to be thoughtful and lead, and hold both chambers and both parties accountable when their words are empty and actions are unacceptable.”
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The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, founded in 1970, is a think tank that produces data, analysis, and ideas to solve challenges that confront the African American community. The Joint Center collaborates with top experts, various organizations, and others that value racial inclusion to maximize our impact. We are currently focused on the future of work in African American communities and congressional staff diversity.