Entertainment Industry Growth in Jobs Aids California Economy
Britt, Russ, THE JOURNAL RECORD
LOS ANGELES _ Hollywood's economic star is rising, with the entertainment industry adding thousands of good-paying jobs even while Southern California struggled through its deep recession.
Since 1988, the film industry has added 25,300 jobs, raising its job total from 97,200 to 122,500 _ with more than 95 percent of the jobs in the Los Angeles area, according to the state Employment Development Department.
Entertainment salaries are nearing those of the ailing aerospace industry, which has long been among the best-paying sectors in Southern California. This year, entertainment salaries average $47,000 a year, compared with $53,000 for aerospace, according to the University of California, Los Angeles Business Forecasting Project.
"That is a dramatic, enormously positive trend," said David Friedman, a private economist who helped author a study earlier this year on entertainment employment. "It is clearly the kind of development that will pull California out of the recession more quickly."
Total aerospace employment declined from 363,000 in 1988 to 227,000 in 1993. While entertainment's job gains are less than a fifth of aerospace's losses _ which total 136,000 jobs _ entertainment's projected growth rate of more than 10 percent is significant.
"That's the highest we can find of any industry at that level of aggregation (of jobs)," said UCLA economist Tom Lieser. "It's actually taking place. It's a very strong product market right now."
Increased feature film production, demand for more television programming and the burgeoning CD-ROM market are contributing to entertainment's growth. The industry contributed more than $16 billion to the Los Angeles economy in 1992.
Economists also believe the Employment Development Department figures understate the actual employment in film production. A study, conducted earlier this year by the Alliance for Motion Picture and Television Producers, showed there were 164,000 film production workers in California in 1992. That number likely will grow to 200,000 by year's end, said Friedman, who contributed to the study. The Alliance is based in the Los Angeles area town of Encino.
Local economists and public officials say the alliance study is the most comprehensive look at an industry where employment is difficult to track. Many production workers are contract employees and are not employed by studios.
The Alliance study used internal employment figures from studios and broadcast networks, saying it better accounts for freelance production workers, a sizable portion of the industry. The Alliance study also shows that industries that serve filmmakers employ an additional 184,000 workers.
The Employment Development Department uses figures from industry payrolls and does not account for independent contractors that work on films, said Suzanne Schroeder, department spokeswoman. …