The Joint Center released the following press release to give an update on congressional staff hires as of January 7, 2019.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 11, 2019
Newly-Elected House Members Fall Short on Hiring Top Staff of Color, Freshman Senators Slow to Hire
WASHINGTON – The Joint Center’s September 2018 report found that while people of color accounted for 38 percent of the U.S. population, they only accounted for 13.7 percent of U.S. House top staffers. Between December 25 and January 7, people of color accounted for only 17.2 percent of top staffers hired by newly-elected House Members. This is a significant drop from the percentage of people of color hired in top staff positions from November 7 to December 24 (31.1 percent). As a result, the Joint Center’s Live Tracker now shows that 26 percent of all top staffers hired so far by newly-elected House Members are people of color.
In the Joint Center’s December 24 update, newly-elected Senators had yet to hire any top staff of color. In our latest update, we found that one top staffer of color was hired by newly-elected Senator Mike Braun (R-IN), raising the percentage of top staff hires of color in the U.S. Senate to 7.7 percent.
Newly-Elected House Members
- The hiring of diverse top staffers by newly-elected House Members (26 percent) continues to lag behind the national population (38 percent people of color) and has decreased since December 24, when the percentage of top staff hired was 31.3 percent.
- House Democrats: From December 25 to January 7, people of color accounted for 26.3 percent of top staff hired by newly-elected House Democrats, which falls below their diverse hiring from November 7 to December 24 (43.8 percent). As a result, people of color account for 34.5 percent of top staff hired by newly-elected House Democrats. By comparison, people of color accounted for 24.6 percent of top staff employed by House Democrats in the Joint Center’s September 2018 report.
- House Republicans: From December 25 to January 7, people of color accounted for 5.6 percent of top staff hired by newly-elected House Republicans, which is lower than the percentage of their diverse hiring from November 7 to December 24 (6.3 percent). As a result, people of color account for 5.9 percent of top staff hired by newly-elected House Republicans. By comparison, people of color accounted for 4 percent of top staff employed by House Republicans in the Joint Center’s September 2018 report.
- People of color accounted for 7.1 percent of Senate top staff in the Joint Center’s December 2015 report, and are currently 7.7 percent of top staff hired by newly-elected U.S. Senators (1 of 13 hires).
Returning Members of Congress
Among returning Members of Congress, the Joint Center identified 17 top staffers of color hired since November 7. Returning Senators hired two Black chiefs of staff and one Black legislative director. This compared to 12 top staffers of color hired by returning Members in our December 24 update.
New Members of Congress have an opportunity to significantly increase diversity among top staff, as they could hire over 300 top staff positions (chiefs of staff, legislative directors, and communications directors). According to the Joint Center’s Live Tracker, a total of 133 of 307 possible positions have been filled.
The Joint Center updates Live Tracker data regularly. The data above reflect top staff hires from November 7, 2018 through January 7, 2019.