Stenographer: The Shortage is Not What Was Forecasted.

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.

An explanation of CSR license numbers from Cassandra Caldarella.

We can pull straight from Ducker to confirm something is off.

Ducker Report, Forecasted Supply for CA in 2018, 6,110.

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.

Out-of-state California CSR licenares per year according to Cassandra Caldarella.

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.

2022, 5,605 CSRs according to SB662 bill text. 4.,829 listed an address in California. 8,004 in 2000. 7,503 in 2010. 6,085 in 2020.

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 Unless 30% of the workforce has been replaced by digital, it means that the demand for court reporters is simply lower than it once was or that there was not enough demand in the market for those 8,004 CSRs.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.

10 thoughts on “Stenographer: The Shortage is Not What Was Forecasted.

  1. I think it would be good if we advertised for stenographic court reporters to let us know where they all are, in what states the are licensed or certified or hold the Notary Public where no certification is required, so that we can get an accurate tally of working reporters at least nationwide. We should also ask where they are in their career, close to retirement or looking to work another 20 years.

    1. If we could get that kind of information gathering on a national scale, it would be great. But given the decentralized nature of our field we’d need a huge advertising campaign. If my funding was that big, there’d be no shortage.

      1. I mean, I appreciate the idea, but CoverCrow is definitely not doing a national advertising campaign to all stenographers on a scale that we could chart every court reporter in the country. I appreciate if that’s where you want to go with it.

        But you can tell the corps are lying because of their refusal to use things that might improve shortage woes like CoverCrow and If there was a genuine shortage, they’d be embracing things like that.

  2. Chris, I thought I sent you the file from the CRB with the list of active CA CSR’s. That is the most accurate data for CA. Not the SB662 propaganda that is using false numbers. I’m sending it again now. And I have spreadsheets for other states as well showing their current numbers.

  3. I don’t have the time at the moment to go back and pull the numbers, but WA has increased its numbers as well, about 20 percent since the beginning of the pandemic the last time I checked. Some of that is recriprocal licensing and remote licensees. But who cares where they come from? We are right about where the now debunked Ducker report said we needed to be.

    1. Thank you for sharing. Yes, I’ve just reviewed another document sent to me and it does appear that the numbers are far more in our favor than we were told.

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