I think it's sad that these hard working people are gaining less money for working at (what I would think) their passion. I hope this can change in the near future too.
Oversaturation in the market perhaps?
In the 90's and 00's people were probably living comfortably with plenty of opportunities. Enough to cement their career.
Nowadays with the internet in full swing we all want to do Voice Acting.
I think that's keeping wages down to be sure, but I suspect the bulk of people's income is corporate work. Certainly in the West most anime outside of Ghibli is non union.
You'd be suprised. If you hit a certain point in VO you have to join a Union. Generally it's SAG-AFTRAs [SP?] Most who voice in anime now a days are unioned.
As for pay in the voice acting field. It's not that it's underpaid it's just that if you don't get regular roles or continuous wallas, yeah the pay is great but you'll only be getting paid for 2 hours worth of work. Which is the case for many voice over artists here and in Japan. As well the voice over field is competative as you've stated. We've got about 10o to 1 ratio in voice actors to parts so it's difficult now just to get into wallas.
Not to mention many studios only bring in actors close to them unless the actor they want is either super well known or they know the actor will be able to pay for travels. So generally you have to be close to the studios to even get in. Thankfully, being in the DFW area there are 4 gaming/anime dubbing studios in the area including FUNimation so I got lucky in that.
The only other way to generally get in is if you get yourself into the ears of actors and directors. The best way is to take a acting class from one of them, blow them away, and hope it was enough to get into the studio.
So be prepared. The industry is cutthroat, but if you work hard and make the right friends you may just make it.
that's interesting when i used to go to anime cons and ask about va they almost were all union. im glad it's changed because unions are very important for defending actors. shame almost no anime is dubbed here in Britain ;(
ARE YOU A KID OR A SQUID?