People of color hold small percentage of top jobs in Senate

Only 11 percent of most senior jobs held by people of color

More than a thousand demonstrators protest the death of George Floyd outside of the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, June 3, 2020.  (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)
More than a thousand demonstrators protest the death of George Floyd outside of the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted August 21, 2020 at 12:06pm

The Senate has a lot of work to do on bolstering the diversity of its top staffers, a report released Friday by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found.

Although people of color comprise 40 percent of the total U.S. population, they make up just 11 percent of the most senior positions in personal Senate offices. The report, written by LaShonda Brenson, considers diversity in three top positions — chief of staff, legislative director and communications director.

Republicans and Democrats fall short when it comes to placing people of color in the top spots, according to the study.

“While Democrats employ more personal office top staff of color than Republicans, both parties have low numbers, and the Republicans' percentage is closer to their party’s share of voters who are people of color,” the report said.

Black, Hispanic and Asian people are all underrepresented in the Senate compared to their share of the total population, the study found. Hispanic individuals are over 18 percent of the U.S. population, but make up just 3.8 percent of top Senate staffers. Black people are over 13 percent of the population, but comprise 3.1 percent of top Senate employees. Asians and Pacific Islanders make up over 6 percent of the total population, but 2.7 percent are represented in the most senior Senate staff jobs.

The report also notes that Senate offices that represent states with large Black and Hispanic populations hire “relatively few Black or Latina/o top staffers.”

Black people average over 27 percent of the population in Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York and Virginia, but hold just 3.5 percent of the top staff jobs in the Senate offices representing those states.

Hispanics average over 29 percent of the population in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Texas. However, only 13.6 percent of the top Senate jobs are held by them, the study found.