Ever wonder how much congressional staff earn? It’s possible to look up individual staff on Legistorm, but what I’m interested in is whether staff compensation match the roles that staffers play, particularly when compared to private sector employment.
Fortunately, with the help of Sunlight Lab’s team, I’ve been able to examine the staff compensation question by playing with data from the recently released House of Representative’s Statement of Disbursements of the House, July 1, 2009 through September 30, 2009.
These numbers aren’t perfect.* But, they represent a good first approximation of House staffer salaries.
|Title||Average Annual Salary||No. of Staff with this title|
|CHIEF OF STAFF||$120,051.55||399|
|DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF||$84,121.66||85|
|DEPUTY DISTRICT DIRECTOR||$61,389.93||73|
|SENIOR LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANT||$57,133.94||101|
|CONSTITUENT SERVICES REPRESENT||$38,872.48||145|
Part of what struck me is how nearly all congressional staff pay is squeezed between $30-$60k annually. The people who are working on issues worth billions of dollars and overseeing all federal agencies earn less than entry level pay for an executive branch employee with a professional degree (or a master’s degree with one year’s experience).
It would be interesting to compare the pay for these positions against their private sector or executive branch equivalents, taking into account Washington D.C.’s higher-than-average cost of living. Keep in mind that most U.S. Representatives earn $174,000 annually.
* The numbers below represent educated guesses drawn from that data. My summary is error prone in many ways: I’ve multiplied quarterly earnings by 4 to obtain annual salaries, thereby omitting bonuses and including people who didn’t work the entire quarter; not everyone uses the same title to describe the same job; some people change jobs during the quarter; this does not include committee office staff; and I’ve omitted a number of job titles that I couldn’t easily classify or did not have at least 50 people with that title. Another possible problem is that I cannot disambiguate staff who live in the DC metropolitan area, and those who live elsewhere in the country.
This page turner is available in PDF format from the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, and the underlying data on Members of Congress’s personal offices has been arduously pulled from that report and is available from Sunlight. (There still more information that needs to be scraped, such as from committees, non-legislative offices, etc.)