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In many ways, today's Capitol Hill is fundamentally unchanged since NJ's first comprehensive demographic survey of staffers in 2003. There are only slightly more women and African-Americans today than there were eight years ago, before the Senate went from Republican to Democrat and the House went from Republican to Democrat and back to Republican.
In 2003, 72 percent of these top staffers were male. That fell to 66 percent in 2007 but jumped back up this year to 68 percent, with only 32 percent of the senior committee slots filled by women. The disparity between the two parties is noticeable — Democratic staffers are 62 percent male while Republican staffers are 73 percent male.
The racial breakdown still shows an overwhelmingly white staff with some slippage in the last four years in reaching more diversity. In 2003, the top staffers were 94 percent white. That fell to 91 percent in 2003 but jumped back up to 93 percent this year. Correspondingly, the percentage of African-American staffers went from 2 percent in 2003, up to 5 percent in 2007 and then down to 3 percent today, after the change in party control.
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Surprisingly, at the same time the country is becoming more Latino, the number of top Hispanic staffers at the key committees has dropped. In both 2003 and 2007, 2 percent of the staffers were Latino. Today, that has fallen to 1 percent. In raw numbers, that translates to only three Latino staffers surveyed — two working for Republicans and only one for Democrats.
The number of Asian staffers stayed steady over the three surveys at 3 percent.
Showing that Hill staffers reflect the larger culture, a longtime trend continued with fewer military veterans working for the committees that write the laws. Today, only 5 percent of the top staffers are veterans. Four years ago, 5 percent of Democratic staffers and 15 percent of Republican staffers were veterans. Democratic veterans dropped only 1 point, to 4 percent. But Republican veterans were cut in half, dropping from 15 percent to 7 percent.
Dropping less sharply was the number of lawyers. Eight years ago, 43 percent of the staffers were lawyers; four years ago, that was down to 36 percent; today, it is down again to 35 percent.
Also dropping was the number of staffers educated in the Ivy League, with a noticeable jump in the number of staffers who got their undergraduate degrees from public schools — up to 49 percent from the 41 percent in both 2007 and 2003. Ivy League graduates — 12 percent in 2003 and 14 percent in 2007 — made up only 10 percent of the top staffers.
The other 41 percent of staffers graduated from other private colleges.
The most popular school for staffers was Georgetown University, with 10 undergraduates and 15 graduates of Georgetown Law. The next most-cited undergraduate school was Yale, with seven graduates. Among law schools, those trailing Georgetown were George Washington University and the University of Virginia, with six each.