Mar 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Congressional diversity growing - slowly

Data: Brookings Institution and Pew Research Center; Note: No data on Native Americans in Congress before the 107th Congress; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios
Data: Brookings Institution and Pew Research Center; Note: No data on Native Americans in Congress before the 107th Congress; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The number of non-white senators and House members in the 535-seat Congress has been growing steadily in the past several decades — but representation largely lags behind the overall U.S. population.

Why it matters: Non-whites find it harder to break into the power system because of structural barriers such as the need to quit a job to campaign full time for office, as Axios reported in its latest Hard Truths Deep Dive.

  • A sign of progress: In the House of Representatives, the share of Black lawmakers is now nearly equal to the percentage of the U.S. population who are Black.
  • Yes, but: The share of Congress members who are Hispanic has only grown from 3.6% to 9% during the past two decades — still less than half of their 18.5% representation in the overall population.
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