PR Industry Employment Up for Four Consecutive Years, Still Below Pre-Recession Levels

CommPRO Editorial Staff

Employment for PR Specialists and PR Managers has risen for four consecutive years, though the industry has still not regained all jobs lost after the financial crisis. With 290,910 professionals and managers employed in 2016, the industry is 5,000 jobs short from its peak employment level in 2009.

There were 11,620 new jobs added in 2016 which represents a 4% year-over-year increase, though the pace of new jobs created in the industry was slower than the previous year when it grew at 5%. Job creation was strong for both specialist and management-level positions, but historical employment trends for the groups are widely different.

Employment for management-level positions in the industry has increased by 20% over the past 7 years, but current numbers are well below employment levels seen 16-17 years ago. PR Specialist positions, while still having some ground to gain from 2009 peak levels, have increased dramatically over the past 17 years, by close to 60%.

According to the latest figures published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, PR Specialists are paid on average $66,540 per year or $32 per hour. For the past nine years, real wage growth (i.e. wage growth adjusted for inflation) has been almost non-existent for PR specialists.

Starting 2008 through 2016 the annual real wage growth for non-managing positions in the PR industry was a dismal 0.09%. For four of the past 9 years, the real wage growth was negative.

On the other hand, PR managers have continued to see a rise in real income after the financial crisis, albeit at a much lower rate than before. The latest official figures state that PR Managers earned $123,360 per year or $59 per hour. PR Managers salaries have increased at an annual rate of 1.06% after adjustment for inflation. Put differently real wage growth for management-level positions was 10.98% from 2016 compared to 2008.

The financial crisis impact on the industry has been profound. Not only has it brought a significant loss in employment, but also a halt in real wage appreciation. Prior to the financial crisis, between 2000 and 2007, the annual real wage appreciation was substantially higher for both managing and non-managing positions. For management-level positions annual real wage growth was 266% higher pre-crisis than post-crisis, while for non-managing positions annual real wage growth was a whopping 1,522% higher.

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