Almost 2,000 House staffers pulled in six figure salaries last year, including 43 making the maximum $172,500, according to a report commissioned by Politico. That’s three times the median US household income, and only $2,000 less than elected legislators make. The ranks of these elite earners have swelled under the Democratic Congress. In 2005, only 203 staffers had salaries of over $163,358; by 2008, that had spiked to 304.
The big earners still represent only a small percentage of the Congressional workforce, and most are highly qualified high-level staffers, often working in leadership offices. “These are people who could be making a lot more money in the private sector, but they choose to work here,” says a Pelosi spokesman—who happens to be making the maximum. “Often some of the junior-level staffers make $25,000 a year. They’re certainly not being overpaid.”