There’s little encouraging news for film and TV writers in the financial report for 2011 out today from the Writers Guild of America, West. (Read the full document here.) The number of writers reporting earnings fell 2.3% to 4,338 — the lowest level in at least six years. The biggest category, television, was up a slight 0.4% to 3,320. That was more than outweighed by the 8.1% drop in screenwriters to 1,562. Meanwhile, writers’ total reported earnings dropped 5.9% to $911.7M, the lowest level since the 2008 recession, although the WGA says the numbers could improve as late reports come in. Television writers generated $559.2M, -1.2% from the all-time high set in 2010. But screenwriters saw $349.1M, -12.6%. “While late reports will offset this decline somewhat, the last two years have resulted in 15% fewer writers employed in screen, earning 20% less in the aggregate,” the WGA says.

The picture’s mixed for the residuals that the union collected. TV was up 14% to $183.1M helped by reuse of programs in foreign territories and an increase in the number of shows made for cable. But theatrical films fell 9.8% to $128.5M — largely due to a 23.9% drop in home video to nearly $30M. The Guild ended the year with net assets of $34.4M, up from $31.7M. Its political action committee had net assets of $83,755, up $39,880.

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