National

New House Members Fall Short Hiring Top Staff of Color, Freshman Senators Slow to Hire

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies’ September 2018 report found that while individuals of color accounted for 38 percent of the U.S. population, they only accounted for 13.7 percent of U.S. House top staffers.

In its ongoing vigilance in keeping track of new hires in Congress, the Joint Center found that between Dec. 25 and Jan. 7, individuals 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 individuals of color hired in top staff positions from Nov. 7 to Dec. 24 (31.1 percent).

As a result, the Joint Center’s Live Tracker now shows that 26.1 percent of all top staffers hired so far by newly-elected House members are individuals of color.

In the Joint Center’s Dec. 24 update, newly-elected senators had yet to hire any top staff of color.

In the latest update, the center found that one top staffer of color was hired by newly-elected Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), raising the percentage of top staff hires of color in the U.S. Senate to 7.7 percent.

The hiring of diverse top staffers by newly elected House members (26.1 percent) continues to lag behind the national population (38 percent individuals of color) and has decreased since Dec. 24, when the percentage of top staff hired was 31.3 percent.

From Dec. 25 to Jan. 7, individuals of color accounted for 26.3 percent of top staff hired by newly-elected House Democrats, which falls below their diverse hiring from Nov. 7 to Dec. 24 (43.8 percent).

As a result, individuals of color account for 34.5 percent of top staff hired by newly elected House Democrats.

By comparison, individuals of color accounted for 24.6 percent of top staff employed by House Democrats in the Joint Center’s September 2018 report.

Additionally, from Dec. 25 to Jan. 7, individuals 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 Nov. 7 to Dec. 24 (6.3 percent).

As a result, individuals of color account for 5.9 percent of top staff hired by newly elected House Republicans.

By comparison, individuals of color accounted for 4 percent of top staff employed by House Republicans in the Joint Center’s September 2018 report.

In the Senate, individuals 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).

Among returning members of Congress, the Joint Center identified 17 top staffers of color hired since Nov. 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 a Dec. 24 update.

According to the Joint Center’s Live Tracker, a total of 133 of 307 possible positions have been filled.

“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),” Center officials said in a news release.

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