What Proportion of Journalists Live in NYC?

Michael’s post this week on the dangers of high-status, low wage jobs opened by citing this tweet:

Michael presents a fascinating model that applies well beyond journalism. But when his post went viral, some commenters asked how accurate Josh Barro’s claim about half of young journalists living in Brooklyn was. Clearly Michael’s post doesn’t depend on it being true, and I’m not even sure Barro meant it literally, but it got me wondering- just what proportion of all young journalists do live in NYC?

For a first pass, we can look at the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics for the category “News Analysts, Reporters, and Journalists“. Their latest data (May 2020) shows 41,580 workers employed in those occupations nationwide. It also shows that the NYC metro has by far the most journalists with 5,940, more than twice as many as the second place metro (DC). This implies that 14.2% of all journalists in America live in the NYC metro. Since only 6% of all Americans live in the NYC metro, journalists are clearly clustering there, though clearly well over half of journalists still live elsewhere.

But, this doesn’t quite get at Barro’s claim, which is about journalists under 40 concentrating in Brooklyn. I don’t know of any data source that would let me really test the Brooklyn part, but I can get at the under-40 claim using Microdata from the American Community Survey, which also zooms us in a bit closer to Brooklyn since it tells us who is in NYC proper (not just the metro area).

The 2019 ACS shows that 10% of all “news analysts, reporters, and journalists” are in NYC proper, rising to 14% if I only consider journalists under 40 years old. This is quite concentrated (only 2.5% of all Americans live in NYC proper), but still a lot less that half of all journalists.

As Michael suggested, the vast majority of young NYC journalists are white (77%) with a college degree (91%), though English was only their second most common major after Communications.

The data confirm the last part of Michael’s post quite well- as journalists get older they are likely to move out of NYC and switch to more lucrative fields like PR. Only 5% of all “public relations specialists” are in NYC.

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