See Ya on the Supply Side

An acquaintance of mine is a newscaster at a local station here. She has a bachelors and a masters degree and she gets paid X amount of dollars. For all of her apparent flaws (yes, I am biased, having to actually live with her and all), she seems to be pretty good at her job.

Her boss is more than happy with her performance, she created a show for her station, and the viewers love her. And yet, she doesn’t get paid very well.

What gives? She has the skill that would normally demand a higher pay rate. She made the neccesary investment. If she had simply invested the thousands upon thousands of doloars worth of student debt she has, she would probably be getting a better return, especially given the compounding of her interest. Because she doesn’t make enough, her loans have been in forbearence for almost as long as they can be, which is about six years. In that time, her loan amount has increased almost $20,000.

What she is facing is a supply side problem. If she walked away from her job, her boss would be able to replace her before she got a block away, for a lower salary.

It sucks, to be sure, but what else can she do?

Find another job. Well, yeah, except that the market is saturated and she sends in audition tape after audition tape, to no avail.

So, needless to say, this worries me. Conventional wisdom says the more education you have, the better pay you will get. And the data supports this–at least on average. People with graduate degrees make more over their lifetimes than people who don’t have them, but when you work with averages, there are always a significant number of people who fall below the mean, not to mention that the educational debt is often substantial.

I try not to worry. The lilles of the field and all that Zen-like wisdom and all. But the psychic cost of debt is heavy, and it’s not one that I want to live with for much longer.

And so I study and study and study, hoping to hone my skill and not fall into that lower set, but that damn market can render skill useless.

What’s a girl with a broken pen to do?

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3 responses to “See Ya on the Supply Side

  1. Yeah, that’s the deal in the print side of media, too. My friends get more an hour working at Lowe’s than I do at the paper and now we’ve been told to limit the amount of overtime we work because corporate wants us to chop our budget.

    The horror.

  2. I was researching a union-busting lawyer the other week who was notorious for fighting newspaper unions. They do get paid pretty darn poorly, and with newspapers struggling they’ve been trying to cut wages further. I read in the paper a few days ago that the starting salary for journalists with a four year degree is $24,000… at the bottom of all majors. (And lets face it, when you fall below a sociology, psychology, theology, or basket-weaving major, you’re not doing too hot.)

    I did meet a friend in Boston who is anchoring the local news at 6am in West Virginia. Hey, she’s not Katie Couric yet, but I suppose it’s a start. At least WV is a cheaper place to live.

    On that note, knowing how much other people struggle (heck, I represent these people at a union), I almost feel bad complaining about my starting salary, which isn’t what we originally agreed to. So I’ve got beef there that’s going to get straightened out.

    But at least I don’t have compounding interest on my student loans. Now THERE is a devil for ya…

  3. Could be worse… I’m trying to make it as a novelist/screenwriter. No pay for that so far.

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