More than 86 percent of all aides in the House of Representatives are white, according to a new study conducted by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a nonpartisan think tank that advocates for racial diversity in government.
The study found that people of color make up just 13.7 percent of all top House staff despite accounting for 38 percent of the population and 23 percent of House lawmakers.
It also found the white members from both parties hire overwhelmingly white aides regardless of their districts’ diversity.
The top-level staffs of white Democratic House members are made up of less than 8 percent people of color despite those members representing districts that are, on average, 37 percent people of color.
The top-level staffs of white Republican House members are made up of less than 3 percent people of color despite those members representing districts that are on average 26 percent people of color.
Nearly 75 percent of all House members have no top staffers who are members of minority groups.
“This is not a party issue. It is not an individual member issue. This is a structural issue. The House of Representatives cannot effectively create public policy that benefits all Americans if the people making policy decisions do not look like all of America,” Spencer Overton, the president of the Joint Center, told The New York Times, which was the first to publish the study.
The issue also extends beyond individual representatives’ office to committees. Of the 40 top Democratic and Republican aides who head House committee staffs, only six, or 15 percent, are people of color.
The trend has significant implications. Being a member of the House staff is often a stepping stone to jobs in the White House, Senate and governors’ office as well as the private sector. House aides are also involved in writing legislation and overseeing the administration of the chamber.
Overton said he hopes the study prompts more diverse hiring.