The WGA said today that employment of female and minority film and TV writers is way up in recent years, but it called the latest hiring data “a mixture of slow, forward progress, stalls and reversals.”
Jobs for minority writers jumped a whopping 41% between 2009 and 2014, according to the report released today, while the employment of female writers increased by 23%. Overall, employment for all writers is way up too – 12% higher in 2014 than in 2009, dwarfing the 2.2% increase over the prior five-year period. Median earnings are also up – from $106,470 in 2008 to $125,000 in 2014, an increase of 17%. (Read the full report here.)
The employment of African-American writers was up 13%, 65% for Latinos, 49% for Asian-Americans and an unprecedented 116% for multiracial writers. Only Native American writers saw a decline – down from nine employed in 2009 to only five in 2014 – a drop of 44%.
Even so, women and minority writers continue to be vastly underrepresented compared with their numbers in the general public. Female writers only account for 26% of all writers employed in 2014, African-Americans 4%, Latinos 3%, Asian-Americans 2.6% and Native Americans 0.2%. Compared with the U.S. population, the guild said that female writers are underrepresented by a factor of 2-to-1, African-Americans by 6-1, Latinos by 9-1, Asian-Americans by 4-1 and Native Americans by 12-1.
“Progress has been slow at best for women and minority writers in an era of television renaissance, while film sector stagnation has witnessed either anemic advances or actual reversals of fortune for groups of writers that remain woefully underrepresented in both sectors,” said Dr. Darnell Hunt, the report’s author and Director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA.
Titled “The 2016 Hollywood Writers Report: Renaissance in Reverse?” the WGAW’s report found that women and minority writers also continue to be paid less than their white male counterparts. The guild found that women earned 89 cents and minorities earned 75 cents for each dollar earned by white male writers.
The guild said that since its last report, “TV production has continued to flourish, while the number of major theatrical film releases has declined. The explosion in original, scripted programming across broadcast, cable, and digital platforms has ushered in a resurgence of television, while theatrical film production among the major studios has been reduced significantly. In this context, white males continued to maintain their dominant hold on employment and earnings in both sectors.”
In television, women writers increased their share of the writing jobs from 27.5% in 2008 to 28% of the jobs in 2014. In film, they increased their share of the writing jobs from 16.1% in 2008 to 16.9% in 2014.
Older writers ages 51-60, meanwhile, became the highest-paid television writers among the age groups by 2014, while writers ages 41-50 remained the highest-paid in film.