Latinos make up only 7.9% of paid congressional interns, this according to a new report from Pay Our Interns, a nonprofit organization fighting for equal access to professional careers for underrepresented students nationwide.
To complete the report, Pay Our Interns reviewed over 8,500 pages of payroll records from the House and Senate and examined how the funds were used, who was hired and how much interns were paid.
Of the 3,822 paid congressional interns in the 116th Congress, the majority, 76.3%, were white. This was followed by 7.9% representation for Latinos and Asian/Pacific Islanders, 6.7% for Blacks and .03% for Native Americans.
According to the report, white students make up only 52% of the national undergraduate student population but accounted for 76% of paid interns. In comparison, Latino students make up 20% of undergraduate students but only accounted for 7.9% of paid interns.
“These data suggest an unequal racial and economic makeup of legislative interns,” the report reads. “Unequal access to congressional internships, especially those that are paid, in effect, disproportionately hands White students an important employment credential. This sets them on a career path to become political elites who hold considerable influence in the creation of public policy, and perhaps become elected officials themselves.”
Pay Our Interns said it recommends Congress start implementing more transparent hiring practices, promote remote internships, expand funding for stipends and increase recruitment in communities of color.
“The underrepresentation of racial minorities among interns presents an important public issue that demands the attention of lawmakers,” the conclusion of the report read. “Now that Congress is paying a significant portion of their interns, they must ensure compensation is provided equitably.”