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Friday, March 15, 2024

Working Class Lawmakers

Robbie Sequeira at Stateline:
Just 116 of the nearly 7,400 state legislators in the United States come from working-class backgrounds, according to a biennial study conducted by Nicholas Carnes and Eric Hansen, political scientists at Duke University and Loyola University Chicago, respectively.

The researchers define legislators as “working class” if they currently or last worked in manual labor, service industry, clerical or labor union jobs. They found that 1.6% of state lawmakers meet that definition, compared with 50% of U.S. workers. Only about 2% of Democrats and 1% of Republicans qualified as working class.

Ten states — Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia — have no working-class state lawmakers.

The dearth of working-class legislators raises concerns that economic challenges such as wage stagnation and the rising cost of living will get short shrift in state capitols.