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Hollywood employment picture weakens in January

March 28, 2013|By Richard Verrier
  • A crew shoots a scene from CBS' "Vegas." Employment in the motion picture, television and sound recording category fell 7.3% to 114,700 jobs in January.
A crew shoots a scene from CBS' "Vegas." Employment in… (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles…)

Like the sluggish box office, the jobs picture in Hollywood isn't looking pretty so far this year.

Employment in the motion picture, television and sound recording category fell 7.3% to 114,700 jobs in January, compared with the same period a year ago, according to the latest figures from the state's Employment Development Department.

In fact, the employment level in January was the lowest of any month since January 2001, when employment also stood at 106,300 jobs, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. The drop also occurred in a month when overall statewide jobs increased 1.8%

The jobs picture fell sharply from December, where there were 120,300 jobs in the category, reflecting a typical seasonal pattern when studios and film crews ramp up before the end of the year.

The decline, however, indicates long-term challenges facing the film and television industry, including the possible effects of production migration. Last year saw a historic fall in the number of new television dramas -- a major source of employment -- being filmed in L.A.

LAEDC economist Kevin Kleinhenz cautioned that it's too early to say whether the jobs decline in January will continue through the year, but added: "It's premature to say this is an indication of runaway production, but it could be a contributing factor," he said.

Studios also have been shedding payrolls in response to a slowdown in traditional sources of revenue, especially DVDs.

The state job figures include people employed at the major studios and in post-production, but does not count the many independent contractors who work in the industry. 

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