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House Diversity Changed Little in Six Years

The House’s ethnic diversity has remained virtually unchanged in the last six years, with white staffers making up a vast majority of the top rungs, according to a recent internal survey.Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard released the 2009 Compensation Survey to some staffers last week. The report, which is usually completed at the beginning of a new Congress, includes information on staffers’ salaries, benefits and responsibilities. This year’s report, the first since 2004 to include diversity statistics, reveals that the chamber has not made significant inroads in its goal to increase the numbers of blacks, Hispanics, Asians and other minorities in Member offices.About 87 percent of chiefs of staff were white in 2009, compared with 89.5 percent in 2003, the year surveyed for the 2004 report. Black staffers have made the most headway, now making up 7.5 percent of chiefs of staff compared with 5.7 percent in 2003.So far, it’s unclear whether the results will prompt House officials to amp up diversity recruitment programs. But the numbers prove the suspicions of Tri-Caucus members, who pressured Beard to include diversity information in the 2009 survey. Beard eventually acquiesced, after first canceling the entire survey for “budgetary reasons.— Racial diversity in lower-ranked staffers has improved somewhat — Hispanics, for example, now make up 7.6 percent of staff assistants, an almost 3-point increase from 2003. Women are also finding themselves in higher positions. Almost 35 percent of chiefs of staff were female in 2003; that number is now 41.3 percent.Most of the report, however, deals with staffers’ salaries and benefits, showing that both have increased across the board. For example, 94.1 percent of offices offer merit increases, compared with only 57 percent of offices in 2003. More staffers are also now allowed paid medical leave for illnesses and births.Salaries have also increased. Legislative directors, for example, make an average of $84,273, about 10 percent more than they did in 2006.According to the report, the high number of responses — 45 percent of offices completed the survey — “allows for stable conclusions to be drawn about the policies and practices of the current Member offices.— The House hired ICF International to do the survey, probably paying about $100,000 for the contract.

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