The wave of layoffs ravaging U.S. newsroom in recent years didn’t let up in 2018, if analysis recently released by Pew Research Center is any indication.
Pew’s report, which compiled layoff data occurring at the largest U.S. daily newspapers and digital-native news outlets by audience reach, found that 27 percent of U.S. papers with average Sunday circulations of 50,000 or more were afflicted with layoffs in 2018.
Pew’s analysis determined that the total number of newspapers in the U.S. with Sunday circulations of 50,000 or more now stands at 97, compared to 110 in 2017.
|Top: A smaller share of U.S. newspapers experienced layoffs in 2018, but a larger share of U.S. newspapers (bottom) experienced more than one round of layoffs during the same period.|
The lone bright spot, according to Pew’s analysis, is that overall, five percent fewer U.S. newspapers cut jobs last year than in 2017. On the other hand, more than a third of the papers that did enact layoffs in 2018 (31 percent) also endured multiple rounds of layoffs within the same year, nearly twice the rate experienced in 2017.
The report discovered that mid-market newspapers (those with circulations between 100,000-249,000) were hit hardest by layoffs last year. More than a third of newspapers this size (36 percent) saw cuts last year. Higher-circulation newspapers (those with circulations of 250,000 or more), 50 percent of which saw pink slips in 2017, fared much better last year (29 percent). Least affected were smaller-circulation newspapers (those with circulations under 100,000), of which 18 percent experienced layoffs.
Buyouts were also offered by 14 percent of these papers last year, down from 18 percent in 2017. Once again, mid- and high-circulation papers were more likely than lower-circulation papers to offer buyouts.
The study also confirmed that digital outlets aren’t immune to the layoff scourge that’s plagued newsrooms across the country. Last year, 14 percent of the highest-traffic digital-native news outlets in the U.S. endured layoffs, a modest improvement from the 20 percent that suffered layoffs in 2017.
Pew in June reported that employment across U.S. newsrooms has declined by 25 percent since 2008, driven primarily by job losses at newspapers.
Pew’s analysis examined layoff-related data at the 134 largest (by audience reach) daily newspapers and digital-native news outlets in the country between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2018.