Congressional ethnic, racial diversity at a record high

Jan 14, 2015

Credit Pew Research Center

The newly seated 114th Congress is the most ethically diverse in the nation’s history, but the numbers are still far from proportionate to the country’s population. The information comes from an analysis from the Pew Research Center that was released yesterday.

Non-whites account for 17 percent of the Congress seated earlier this month — but that trails far behind the share of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States, which accounts for 38 percent of the total population.

When looking specifically at new members, they account for 15 percent of Congress. 

In Illinois, five of 18 representatives are black, Hispanic or Asian: Bobby Rush, Robin Kelly, Danny Davis, Luis Gutierrez  and Tammy Duckworth. All are Democrats and from the Chicago or its suburbs. Both senators — Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk — are white. Those numbers are no different than the 113th congressional delegation from Illinois.

As Pew notes, the nation has grown more diversified at a faster pace than Congress.

This Congress also has a record number of women: 108 — 88 in the House and 20 in Senate, according to Pew.

But the number of women in state legislatures  in 2015,  24 percent, has dropped slightly, according to Rutger’s Center for American Women and Politics.