Last year our annual salary survey asked "How Low Can You Go?" and the answer is 2.1%. That is the average industry raise reported in 2009, the lowest raise in at least six years and more than a full percentage point below the meager 3.3% raise earned in 2008. But the survey didn't find all bad news.
Fifty-eight percent of respondents said the financial condition at their company had stabilized, and 20% said the company they work for is expanding. The two most visible signs of growth at companies were the hiring of new employees and restoring pay raises. The latter is welcome news since more than half of survey participants said they received no raise at all in 2009. With companies' finances in better shape than a year ago, industry members were feeling a bit more secure about their jobs, although the 71% of respondents who said they felt secure about their jobs, while higher than in 2008, was still below 2007 levels. The highest number of companies still retrenching were among nonprofits, university presses, and religious publishers.
Despite the slowly improving conditions, the survey found a malaise still hovering over a significant portion of the industry workforce. The survey found people doing more work for the same or less money, a combination that resulted in low pay being cited by 68% of those with job complaints as their main grievance. In 2009, low salaries was cited by 53% of those dissatisfied with their jobs. Increased workload, lack of recognition, and lack of advancement all increased more than 20 percentage points between 2008 and 2009 among those unhappy with their jobs. Overall, those satisfied with their jobs fell by two percentage points last year, to 48%.
Dissatisfaction with their jobs was no doubt the reason that 27% of respondents said they would not recommend publishing as a career, the highest negative response rate ever. As recently as 2006, 82% of industry members said they would encourage students to enter publishing. And a growing number of industry members are showing their displeasure with publishing not only by discouraging others from entering the field but by leaving. Sixteen percent of respondents said they expected to change careers within two years, up from 11% in 2008, and 16% were unsure where they will be in 2012. Another 19% hoped to find themselves at a different publishing company.
The segment of the population least interested in a publishing career is men. By a remarkably high percentage, women are filling the ranks of new employees. According to the survey, 85% of employees with fewer than three years of experience were women, a figure that changes only slightly among industry members with three to six years' experience, where women held 82% of jobs. It is not until later in a publishing career that the women-to-men ratio balances out a bit, with women holding 54% of positions among employees with 20 or more years of experience.
Women dominate the publishing ranks despite being paid far less than men. The overall gap between men and women in 2009 was roughly $40,000, about $10,000 higher than in 2008. The discrepancy can be explained in part because the only area where men outnumber women is in management, where the highest paying jobs are found. The extraordinarily high number of women in low-paying entry-level jobs also contributes to the gap as does the fact that men have more experience than women; men averaged nearly 17 years on the job compared to just over 11 years for women. Still, on a position-by-position basis, the survey found that in the overwhelming number of cases men earned more than women. The positions where this did not hold true was at the highest levels in editorial and sales and marketing. Women editorial directors/editors-in-chief averaged higher salaries than men in the same job, while women publishers had higher average salaries than men publishers. At the vice president level in sales and marketing, pay was nearly equal between the sexes.
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