Congress

House employee survey shows discontent with pay

Racial figures comparable to national statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau

Philip Kiko, chief administrative officer of the House of Representatives, said the survey was designed to gain insight into the makeup of congressional offices. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Most employees in the House are not satisfied with their pay and almost half have considered employment elsewhere, according to a survey the Chief Administrative Officer of the House released Thursday.

House employees earn an annual average of $69,379 per year, but only 35.8 percent said they were satisfied with their pay. Average pay trends higher for those who work in committees, leadership and as House officers — those positions average $102,000 per year. Just under half — 44.7 percent — said they considered other employment elsewhere.

Out of the 10,356 House employees the survey was administered to, 5,290, or more than half, responded.

[House members are more diverse, but does the same go for staff?]

The majority of House employees are young, white, straight, female and Christian, the survey shows: 69.5 percent are white, 14.5 percent are black, 12.2 percent are Latinx and 6.7 percent are Asian. More than half of House employees, 54.3 percent, are female. 

When it comes to faith, 64.2 percent are Christian, 18.8 percent identify as having no religion and 6.7 percent are agnostic. Regarding sexual orientation, 89.9 percent are straight, 6 percent are gay and 3.4 percent are bisexual.

The House statistics are comparable to national statistics. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 76.5 percent of people in the U.S. are white, 18.3 percent are Hispanic, 13.4 percent are black and 5.9 percent are Asian. Women comprise 50.8 percent of the population, according to the Census.

A Pew Research Center study notes that Christians make up 70.6 percent of the U.S. population. Gallup estimates the U.S. population who identifies as LGBT at 4.5 percent, according to a 2018 report.

“The survey was designed to gain insight into demographics in Member Offices, Committees and the Offices of our House Officers,” said Chief Administrative Officer Phil Kiko in an emailed statement. “House Leadership, along with the Appropriations Committee and Committee on House Administration are reviewing the results.”

The survey was undertaken under the direction of the fiscal 2019 Legislative Branch report and House Rules for the 116th Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to Democratic colleagues. The California Democrat said the survey results will be incorporated into a series of recommendations to help enhance diversity and inclusion in the House.

Pelosi said she plans to announce the launch of the House Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which was included in the House Rules package, which passed in January. She also said she plans on implementing a process like the Rooney Rule in the Caucus rules. The Rooney Rule is a policy used in the National Football League that requires every team with a head coaching vacancy to interview at least one diversity candidate.

[Congress doesn’t report diversity because it doesn’t have to]

“Furthermore, as part of this broad commitment to diversity across the House, the Democratic Caucus will soon officially adopt a process similar to the Rooney Rule in our Caucus rules, a hiring practice that specifically includes a diverse pool of candidates for all staff vacancies,” Pelosi said. “The Committee on Caucus Procedures has been leading the review of this proposal.”

Most employees in the House are under 32 — 53.3 percent. Member offices have the highest percentage of younger employees, with 61.8 percent under that age.

A large portion of employees — 73.6 percent — said they were satisfied with their benefits.

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