Cassandra Caldarella reached out to me a while ago with some information about California. Given my relative lack of familiarity with California’s court reporting laws and statistics, the interaction was very welcome. I’ve said it many times, but I would be nowhere without information sent in by readers.
The first thing I was told was that in 2013 there were 7,100 active CSRs in California and that there are now 6,580 CSRs in 2023, a loss of 520, or about 8%. A loss of about 50 per year, or 0.7% of that 7,100 total. The Ducker Report told us something like 70% of reporters would be retiring between 2013 and 2023, so about 2.3% a year. 4.67% per year if you count from 2018, when the shortage was supposed to start getting bad. What does all this mean? The California shortage may be half as bad as it was forecasted to be.
We can pull straight from Ducker to confirm something is off.
There was a 6,110 supply of stenographers forecasted in 2018, and it was supposed to get worse and worse every year until 2018. If it is accurate that there are now 6,580, then we are doing much better than the forecast.
Cassandra went on to explain that these were not straight losses and that there were a lot of new CSRs coming in.
I was then given a yearly breakdown of out-of-state CA CSR licensees. The average before COVID was about 10 per year. 2020 to 2023, that jumps to about 16.
I did go snooping for these numbers, because I don’t like to publish without some fact checking, and I did find at least one piece of information from SB662 that seems to contradict or call into question these numbers.
That’s a much more grim outlook. But perhaps it’s just market forces at work? Unless 30% of the workforce has been replaced by digital, it means that the demand for court reporters is simply lower than it once was or that there was not enough demand in the market for those 8,004 CSRs. A lot of people believe in the self-correction of markets. Why is our labor market any different? We could blame it on government regulation. Then again, we could also blame it on the larger corporations that stood by and did basically nothing for half a decade. If there was a retirement cliff, they sure weren’t worried about it, and I think that says a lot.
Let’s work with the most relevant numbers presented here. 7,503 in 2010. 1,418 drop from 2010 to 2020. A loss of about 19%, 1.7% a year. Still below the 2.3% to 4.7% it was supposed to be, but not quite as rosy as the 0.7% figure I was hoping for.
I’d really like to get the discussion going here. Are there more accurate direct sources I’ve missed? Has anybody run these numbers and come up with similar results? Have I gotten something completely wrong?
The comments are open.
Some edits were done to the images and text in this post after it went live. Subsequently, I was sent a spreadsheet that purports to show about 6,849 California CSRs active as of May 10, 2023. So, after seeing that, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that we are in much better shape than was forecasted.