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Casting data released Monday by the Screen Actors Guild offered a mixed picture of improved ethnic minority representation but a decline in the average number of work days per role.

“While we are also pleased to announce the largest percentage share for ethnic minorities to date, we cannot be content with the current levels of representation in each category, as they do not reflect the current demographics of our country,” said SAG president Alan Rosenberg.

The total number of minority roles in features rose last year by 14.5%, while roles in low-budget films grew by 20.2% and episodic TV increased by 13%. But non-episodic television, the lowest contributor in terms of roles, fell substantially due to the networks’ abandonment of movies of the week, an increase in reality shows and a decline in production pilots.

SAG noted that the number of days worked for features declined in 2006, even though the number of roles was significantly higher. Non-episodic also saw a steep decline in average days worked per role.

Most ethnic groups edged down as measured by proportion to total roles, while the number of roles classified as “unknown/other” grew from 2.1% in 2005 to 3.3% in 2006. Asian/Pacific Islander grew 3.1% to 3.4%.

African-American roles as a proportion of total roles edged down slightly with most of the decline coming in lead roles. Latino/Hispanic roles also declined slightly, though that group saw gains in features with lead roles rising from 31 to 52 and supporting roles up from 302 to 364.  

Native American Indian roles declined from 0.4% to 0.2% and non-episodic TV declined by 69 roles. But in other categories, roles for Native Americans increased from 76 to 89.