Racial Diversity Among Top Staff in the U.S. House of Representatives
This report, “Racial Diversity Among Top Staff in the U.S. House of Representatives,” provides evidence regarding the lack of racial diversity among top staff in the U.S. House of Representatives. This report defines top staff as chiefs of staff, legislative directors, and communications directors in the Washington, D.C. personal offices of U.S. House members; chiefs of staff, policy directors, and communications directors in the top leadership offices of each political party; and staff directors assigned to full committees. The data reflects House employment on June 30, 2022.
Key findings show:
- People of color account for 40 percent of the U.S. population, but only 18 percent of all top House staff.
- Of the 308 personal offices of white members, only 23 (7.4 percent) are led by chiefs of staff of color. Thirteen work for Democratic members, and ten for Republican members.
- In the personal offices of white Democratic members, 14.8 percent of top staff are people of color, even though these offices represent districts that are, on average, over 38.9 percent people of color. Similarly, 3.2 percent of white Democratic members’ top staffers are Black.
- In the personal offices of white Republican members, only 5.1 percent of top staff are people of color, even though these members represent districts that are, on average, 25.7 percent people of color. Similarly, 1.1 percent of these members’ top staffers are Black.
- No Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI), biracial, Middle Eastern/North African (MENA), or Native American serves in any of the 41 committee staff director positions or any of the 20 top staff positions in the top leadership offices of either party.
- Congressional Black Caucus members are responsible for 80 percent (four of the five) of Black staff directors hired to full committees in the U.S. House.
- Members who belong to more left-leaning caucuses have more top staff of color than members of more conservative caucuses. People of color make up 40 percent of the top staffers who work for members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, compared with 23.6 percent of top staffers who work for Blue Dog Coalition members. Only 9.2 percent of top staffers who work for members of the House Freedom Caucus are people of color, but that percentage is higher than the 5.1 percent of top staffers who work for white Republican members as a whole.
- Between 2018 and 2022, the percentage of people of color in House personal office top staff positions increased from 13.7 percent to 18 percent. We observed increases in diversity in all top positions in House personal offices, but the most significant increase was among legislative directors, which increased by almost seven percentage points.
Racial Diversity Among Top Staff in Senate Personal Offices
Today, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies released “Racial Diversity Among Top Staff in Senate Personal Offices“.
This report provides evidence regarding the lack of racial diversity among U.S. Senate personal office top staff positions. This report defines personal office top staff as all chiefs of staff, legislative directors, and communications directors in the Washington, DC personal offices of U.S. Senators. The data reflect Senate employment as of January 2020. For exclusive coverage of the report, see The New York Times. Additional media for this report can be found at the bottom of this page.
- Click here for a 2-page summary of the report.
- Click here for charts featured in this report.
- Click here for an 1-page infographic on the report.
- Read the full 25-page report here.
The report was written by LaShonda Brenson, Ph.D.
Key findings show:
- People of color make up 40% of the U.S. population, but only 11% of all Senate office top staff.
- When you break down the ratio of employees by racial group relative to the U.S. population, the results are alarming.
- 18.5% – U.S. population
- 3.8% – Senate top staffers
- African Americans
- 13.4% – U.S. population
- 3.1% – Senate top staffers
- Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders
- 6.1% – U.S. population
- 2.7% – top staffers
- Native Americans
- 1.3 % – U.S. population,
- There are currently no Native American Senate top staffers
- Middle Eastern/North Africans
- 0.5 % – U.S. population
- 0.3 % – Senate top staffers
- Biracial Americans
- 2.7 % – U.S. population
- 1% – Senate top staffers
- In states where there are large shares of Black or Latina/o residents – Senate offices hire relatively few Black or Latina/o top staffers.
- People of color are underrepresented among top staff, even in Senate personal offices that represent large populations of color.
- In states with large shares of Black residents like AL, DE, GA, LA, MD, MS, NC, SC, NY, and VA:
- African Americans
- 27.1% of the population in these states
- Only 3.5% of the total top staff positions in these states’ U.S. Senate offices
- African Americans
- In states with large shares of Latina/o residents like AZ, CA, CO, FL, IL, NV, NJ, NM, NY, and TX:
- 29.4% of the population in these states
- Only 13.6% of the top staff positions in these states’ Senate offices
- The three states with the highest share of Black residents that are represented by two Democratic U.S. Senators have no Black personal office top staff.
- On average, African Americans account for 24.7% of the residents and 39.3% of the 2016 Democratic Party turnout in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, but none (0%) of the 17 top staff positions in the Senate personal offices of these states.
- In Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi—the three states with the highest share of African American residents that are represented by two Republican U.S. Senators—there are no Black top staff.
- In the last five years, the overall percentage of personal office top staff of color increased from 7.1% up to 11%, but Asian American/Pacific Islander and Native American numbers declined.
- Racial diversity among Senate office top staff increased among Latina/os (2.4% to 3.8%) and African Americans (0.7% to 3.1%)
- Racial diversity among Senate office top staff declined among Asian American/Pacific Islanders (3.7% to 2.7%) and Native Americans (0.3% to 0%)
For coverage of the report see ABC News, The Grio, The Hill, (“New report finds top Senate staffers are more diverse than in 2015 but still predominantly white” and “Hill associations push for more diversity in lawmakers’ staffs“), Nevada Current, Politico, Roll Call, and The Washington Post.