Gender, race impact median annual earnings: study

Gender and race play a negative role on median annual earnings within the television industry, according to a new study conducted by production support resource Brits in the Box in ...
March 20, 2017

Gender and race play a negative role on median annual earnings within the television industry, according to a new study conducted by production support resource Brits in the Box in association with ProductionBeast.

The 2016 Annual Salary Report, which provides examples of non-union rates being paid across the American TV and digital production sector, examined the role that race, gender, age, location and experience play on what an individual earns.

Results were drawn from 302 respondents who completed an anonymous online multiple choice survey. It found that women earn less than men, people of color even less than woman, and those working across the non-union factual industry fare better than their non-union scripted counterparts.

The participants – 67% of whom represented the West Coast, and 73% representing the unscripted sector – were asked to select their primary job title, years of experience, sex, race, age, location and how they find work.

Sixty percent of respondents came from a production company, while 15% worked at a cable, 9% at a network, 7% in digital and 5% were labeled as “other”.

The study found that women’s salaries averaged less than 11% of their male counterparts, earning $0.89 to every dollar men made. The median annual earnings for women averaged US$70,000 compared to $78,000 for men – though in some positions, men were paid a median weekly rate more than 22.5% than their female colleagues.

Meanwhile, racial minorities earned $0.63, or 37% less, to every dollar made by those identifying as white. Median annual earnings for non-whites, who make up 13% of the television production community, were recorded as $50,000 compared to $80,000 for white filmmakers.

Notably, African-Americans and Hispanics earned less than their Caucasian associates, with an earnings gap of 37% as opposed to the U.S. figure that ranges between 13-18%, depending up on race.

The study also found that non-union scripted industry earns $45,000 less than those working across the unscripted field, and net just 17% more than the U.S. per capita income. Those in non-union unscripted, meanwhile, earn 160% more than those in scripted. 

An individual’s location within the U.S. also played a factor in how much they made, the study found. While the overall median annual earnings on the West Coast were 15% less than the East, weekly median rates for some positions were paid up to 30% higher.

The overall unemployment rate for production professionals was 2% lower than the U.S. average, at just 3%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics BLS Report 2016, which stated the overall unemployment rate at 5.3%.

Similar to the U.S. figure, unemployment rates varied across ethnicity groups, with non-whites having a higher level of unemployment.

“The only factors that should affect someone’s earnings are their experience, location, and to a lesser extent, the type of production that they are working on. Sadly our report shows this not to be the case,” said Jacqui Moore (pictured), founder and VP of production for Brits in the Box, in a statement. “Until we have earnings transparency in production, inequality will continue to exist. It means that surveys such as this begin to play an increasingly important role in supporting the eradication of disparity.”

The free 34-page report is available by email sign up here.

Based in New York, Brits in the Boxprovides production resource and consulting services to prodcos both in the U.S. and UK, as well as career advancement services to creative professionals.

ProductionBeast, meanwhile, serves as an online platform providing production firms, networks and studios assistance to find, track and hire freelancers and vendors for productions.

About The Author
Jillian Morgan is a special reports editor at realscreen with a background in journalism and digital marketing. She joined the publication in 2019 after serving as the assistant editor to trade publications HPAC and On-Site. With a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax, she also works as a freelance writer and fact-checker.