CPB data shows decline in pubmedia workforce, small increases in staff diversity

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Newly released CPB data shows a continued decline in the total workforce of public media stations as well as incremental growth in the representation of people of color within station staffs.

As of January, there were 18,077 employees working for stations that receive Community Service Grants, down from 18,082 in January 2021 and the recent peak of 19,226 jobs in January 2020, a couple of months before the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the U.S.

CPB previewed some of the workforce issues in a State of the System presentation at the Public Media Business Association conference earlier this year. The corporation reported more job openings at stations in fiscal year 2021 compared to FY20 and a decline in overall hiring since FY19. Several stations, including New York Public Radio, Wyoming PBS and KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif., announced job cuts in 2020 and 2021 as they reeled amid the pandemic.

The new data also sheds light on trends in the racial and ethnic composition of the workforce. The percentages of African American, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian and Pacific Islander employees at stations remained relatively stagnant. The largest increase was among Hispanics, at 0.6% from January 2020 to January 2022.

As of January, about 10% of the workforce was Black, 8% Hispanic, 4% Asian and Pacific Islander, and 2% Native American. About 74% of the total workforce was white, keeping pace with a steady decline since at least 2016, when 79% of employees were white.

Around 11% of African Americans held leadership roles, an increase from 9% in 2021. Hispanics with leadership titles upped a percentage point, to 7%. The percentage of Native American leaders remained flat at 2%, and Asian representation in leadership roles declined a percentage point to 3%.

Compared to broader demographic trends in the U.S., representation of Hispanics at stations from 2020–21 actually lagged behind the growth of the country’s Hispanic population. According to U.S. Census data for April 2020 and July 2021 — the most recent available — the U.S. Hispanic population grew by 0.2% over that time, while Hispanic representation in the system remained flat.

Asian and Pacific Islander representation at stations tracked with U.S. trends over that time, as did growth of Native Americans in the workforce. African American representation in the system outstripped U.S. demographic trends, growing by 2% in the system while the percentage of African Americans in the U.S. remained flat.

With regards to gender, men continued to hold more leadership positions in pubmedia compared to women, according to the data, but women gained in total jobs categorized as “officials,” “managers” and “professionals.” For example, 494 women held leadership titles at the start of this year compared to 473 in 2021. Men with leadership titles declined to 570 from 589 year over year.

The largest gender and racial gap is among “technician” positions. Men hold 79% of technician titles out of 2,440 total jobs in that category. White people hold 76% of technician jobs.

CPB declined to comment on the data, which was added to the “Other Reports” page of its website. It last released gender and racial workforce information in early 2021, with data going up to 2020.

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