Movie, Recording Industry Workers More Likely to Earn At/Below Minimum Wage

February 13, 2014 - 7:16 PM

Hollywood

(AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - The percentage of hourly workers in the motion picture and sound recording industries who made at or below the minimum wage in 2013 was more than twice the percentage of hourly workers in the national workforce who made at or below the minimum wage, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The median hourly wage in the motion picture and recording industries also lagged the national median hourly wage by about 27 percent.

In the average month of 2013, according to BLS, there were 75,948,000 people in the United States employed in a job for which they were paid an hourly wage. Of these 75,948,000 workers, 1,768,000 were paid less than the prevailing minimum wage and 1,532,000 were paid at the minimum wage.

These combined 3,300,000 workers paid at or below the minimum wage equaled approximately 4.4 percent of all hourly-wage workers.

“The presence of a sizable number of workers with wages below the federal minimum does not necessarily indicate violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as there are exemptions to the minimum wage provisions of the law,” BLS explained in its 2012 report on the "Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers."

The motion picture and recording industries employed an average of 162,000 hourly-wage workers in 2013, according to BLS. These included 4,000 who were paid under the prevailing minimum wage and 13,000 who were paid at the prevailing minimum wage.

The 17,000 hourly workers in the motion picture and recording industries paid at or below the minimum wage equaled about 10.5 percent of the 162,000 hourly-wage workers in those industries.

The 10.5 percent of workers in the motion picture and recording industries paid at or below the minimum wage was about 2.4 times the national rate of 4.4 percent.

The median hourly wages in the motion picture and recording industries also lagged behind the national average.

Nationally, the median wage for workers paid by the hour in 2013 was $12.93 per hour. In the motion picture and recording industries, it was $10.19 per hour.

The motion pictures and recording industries would need to increase their median hourly wage of $10.19 by $2.74—or about 27 percent—to equal to the national median hourly wage of $12.93.

The motion picture and recording industries employed more men than it did women at an hourly pay rate that was at or below the minimum wage. But these industries also paid women a lower overall median wage than it paid men.

Of the 4,000 workers that the industries paid an hourly wage below the prevailing minimum wage, 3,000 were men and 1,000 were women. Of the 13,000 workers that the industries paid the hourly wage, 7,000 were men and 6,000 were women.

But the motion picture and recording industries paid women a median hourly wage of $9.82, while paying men a median hourly wage of $10.49.

According to BLS, there were 335,500 total employees in the motion picture and sound recording industries as of December 2013.

Only 9.5 percent of the “wage and salary workers” in these industries, according to BLS, were members of a union. A decade ago, in 2004, according to BLS, 15.7 percent were members of unions.

The BLs reported that in 2012, cashiers in the industries earned median annual wages of $18,910, while motion picture projectionists earned a median annual wages of 19,690, and audio and video equipment technicians earned median annual wages of $43,030.

“Industries in the Motion Picture and Sound Recording Industries subsector group establishments involved in the production and distribution of motion pictures and sound recordings,” explains BLS.

“While producers and distributors of motion pictures and sound recordings issue works for sale as traditional publishers do, the processes are sufficiently different to warrant placing establishments engaged in these activities in a separate subsector," says BLS. "Production is typically a complex process that involves several distinct types of establishments that are engaged in activities, such as contracting with performers, creating the film or sound content, and providing technical postproduction services. Film distribution is often to exhibitors, such as theaters and broadcasters, rather than through the wholesale and retail distribution chain.”

President Barack Obama is asking Congress to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, which would set it 9 cents below the 2013 median hourly wage in the motion picture and sound recording industries.