Sarah Rose, 27, works full time as a newspaper reporter in Kentucky, but is considering taking a part-time job to help cover living expenses.
Rose earns $24,000 a year at the Glasgow Daily News, where mandatory furloughs this year are projected to reduce her modest salary by $2,000.
“With these furlough days, I am living paycheck to paycheck,” says Rose, who holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Mesa State College in Colorado.
Like thousands of other journalists, Rose is pursuing a career that has long been notorious for low salaries.
As it turns out, the purchasing power of a typical reporter’s pay has trended even lower over the past decade, as wage growth for reporters nationwide has failed to keep pace with either inflation or overall wages in the United States, according to data from the federal government.
The mean salary for reporters and correspondents rose from $40,090 in May 2003 to $44,360 in May 2013, an increase of 10.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics.
During the same 10-year period, the mean salary for all occupations rose considerably more – 28 percent, from $36,210 in 2003 to $46,440 in 2013, BLS data shows.
That caused a reversal: A decade ago, reporters and correspondents earned more than the average wage for all U.S. workers, but that is no longer true. Reporters, on average, earned $2,080 less than the national average last May, the most recent month for which data is available.