The accounts receivable management (ARM) industry workforce is evolving in terms of diversity and continues to be a significant source of employment for women and people of color, according to new research on trends in ARM industry employment from Kaulkin Ginsberg in partnership with ACA International.
In fact, the vast majority of collectors are female, and are more likely to be people of diverse backgrounds than their peers in other industries, according to the research report, Diversity in the Collections Industry: Examining the Demographics of Collection Agents .
Additionally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were roughly 97,000 collection agents in 2021, which represents 72.7% of the estimated total industry employment for that year.
Black and Hispanic workers have much higher rates of representation at collection agencies than they do in the general workforce, making up 24% and 16% of total bill collectors in 2019, respectively. Bill collectors work with consumers to recover overdue payments and make up roughly 73% of total collections industry employment.
“The trend of growing diversity in the ARM industry is exciting and ACA International is embracing working with its membership across the U.S. and world,” said ACA CEO Scott Purcell. “People of diverse backgrounds make up a significant portion of the collections industry and are valuable contributors to working directly with consumers to help them resolve their accounts and recover payments that ultimately support the credit-based economy.”
ACA’s 2022/23 President Courtney Reynaud said during the Annual Convention & Expo in Orlando that one of her goals as president is to encourage more members from diverse groups to participate in association events and education. “My goal is to expand upon ACA’s original diversity committee to create a venue that is encouraging and open for all members and groups,” she said.
Diversity in the ARM Industry
Overall, in 2021, Kaulkin Ginsberg estimates that U.S. collection agencies employed roughly 133,500 people full time, including collection agents, managers, and other full-time administrators and support staff. By 2024, industry employment is projected to swell to nearly 142,100 people.
Women make up a disproportionately high percentage of collection agents when compared to the workforce as a whole. For example, according to data provided by the BLS’s Current Population Survey, which studies trends in the labor force, 72.1% of collection agents were female as of 2021, an increase of 6.1 percentage points from the previous year. In contrast, women comprised just 47% of total workers.
Overall, racial and ethnic minorities make up around 42% of total bill collectors. By comparison, those minorities comprise 36% of the total workforce. Black workers had a much higher rate of representation at collection agencies than in the general workforce, making up 21.6% of total collection agents in 2021.
The collections industry employs Hispanic workers at a similar rate compared to the total workforce average, at 17.2% compared to 19.7%, respectively. Asian workers, on the other hand, are relatively less represented, making up a little more than 2.8% of collection agents.
The collections industry continues to work to create diverse and inclusive environments. Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace benefits all parties involved, and the collections industry is committed to these important social values. The strong commitment of the collections industry to have diverse places of work, with people of various backgrounds, has led to a successful environment where employees flourish and advance.