Legislators are demanding a new study, the first in almost a decade, to determine if staffers, specifically women and minorities, are underpaid, The Hill reports.
"Addressing pay inequality, both on sex and race, is a top priority," said Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee. "That’s why we’ve included language in this year’s Legislative Branch appropriations bill for a compensation study that examines both pay equity and the overall competitiveness of House salaries."
Members of the House and the Senate have included a requirement to study staffers' pay in their respective funding bills, which already have passed their chambers as part of an appropriations package. Although studies on the issue were once done regularly, the House has not conducted one since 2010, and the Senate hasn’t since 2006. Earlier this year, Demand Progress Action policy director Daniel Schuman testified before Congress to push for reinstating the studies.
"There is reason to believe that congressional staff may have lower salaries than their executive branch counterparts. Any pay gap or perception thereof may affect staff retention in the House of Representatives," he said in April.
"In addition, it is unknown but suspected that there are disparities in pay among congressional staff with the same duties that vary based on gender or race," Schuman continued Information about any pay or retention gaps would help the House understand whether further action should be taken."
The last study to focus on racial or gender-based pay disparities was in 2004, and found that there is on average a 17 percent gap between what men and women are paid, and that men are 50 percent more likely to have an "executive" position than women.
"In two of the 16 positions analyzed in this manner, gender was found to uniquely affect pay. That is, for 14 of the 16 positions, staff with comparable qualifications did not earn statistically significantly less or more than their gender counterparts do. However, in two positions — Chief of Staff and District Director — female staff earned less than male staff with comparable training and experience," reads the 2004 study.
"On average, black House staff earn 90 cents for every dollar earned by white staff. Hispanic staff earn 81 cents, and for Asian staff the figure is 90 cents," the report stated.
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