Boom in biz jobs seen in ’97

The entertainment industry in Los Angeles can expect to add about 26,000 additional jobs in 1997, a growth perhaps even greater than the robust increase in employment last year, according to a report released Wednesday by the Economic Development Corp. of Los Angeles County.

According to the study, the number of movie and TV jobs in the county in 1996 reached 224,300, a jump of about 15,000.

Called the Film Industry Profile, the report sees the region benefiting from the expansion of overseas markets for movies, especially as exhibitors move to new areas or upgrade outdated theaters.

Growth in these other areas should offset recent layoffs in new media and staff cutbacks caused by media conglomerate mergers, according to officials who wrote the report.

“While there are ‘competitor’ film industries in Canada, Europe, Hong Kong and India, the local film industry should see the rapid growth continue at least through the year 2000,” said Jack Kyser, chief economist for the EDC.

Kyser also cited the expansion of cable and satellite television services, particularly the increasing competition in direct-broadcast satellite services. Hughes Communications, parent of DirecTV, is based in El Segundo.

Overall, the number of industry-related jobs in the county has grown by about 81,000 since 1990. Kyser also credited efforts to streamline the production permit process.

The projection of job growth was based on state labor employment figures, real estate leasing rates and other factors.

Kyser cites expansions on studio lots, the construction of new soundstages and the building of new “speculative” office buildings in the coming year as a reason for optimism. In Glendale for example, a developer once again is reviving plans to build a 500,000-square-foot office building, geared to entertainment clients.

But potential roadblocks, Kyser said, are in finding workers with artistic and technical skills, such as those for computer animation and post-production. “Efforts are under way to solve this problem,” he said. “But the reality is, some jobs have been lost to other locations.”

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