State Legislatures: They Are ChangingNCSL is the bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staff of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.
The National Conference of State Legislatures shows the demographic, gender and occupation of the nation's 7,382 state legislators.
Over the last 20 years, the make-up of state legislatures across the country has changed. As the U.S. population grows, legislative districts grow larger and more diverse.
The National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the Joint Center for Economic Studies and the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators and the Women's Legislative Network worked in conjunction with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) to collect data on the occupation, gender, racial and ethnic makeup of state legislators.
"More state legislators are working full time for the state. They have overtaken attorneys as the largest occupation in legislatures across the country," said William T. Pound, executive director for the National Conference of State Legislatures. "Also, more retired individuals are being elected to the nation's statehouses. They make up the third largest occupational group."
A new interactive map on the NCSL website allows you to examine the makeup of each state’s legislature by ethnicity, gender, age, religion and occupation and compare those figures to national averages.
The average age of a state legislator is 56 and has increased slightly in recent years as the number of retired legislators has risen. Nearly half of the nation's state legislators are between 50 and 64 years of age; almost 4 percent are between 20 and 34.
Since 1969, the number of women serving in legislatures has increased from several hundred to 1,789 or 24.2 percent of state legislative seats nationwide. In 1970, there were only 169 African-American lawmakers; today there are 628. Latinos hold more than 3 percent of all the legislative seats in the nation. Currently, there are more African Americans and Hispanics serving in state legislatures than at any time in the nation's history.
NCSL has been collecting demographic data over the past two decades. It has been used by state legislators, legislatures and the media to understand how leadership at the state level has become more diverse and more reflective of the constituents served.
NCSL's new interactive map can be found on our website.