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H’w’d production jobs post solid annual gains

New media could be making up for traditional jobs

Employment in Hollywood’s motion picture production industry has continued to post solid annual gains of 4% in the past two years, preliminary state job statistics show.

Average statewide employment last year hit 154,200, up 6,000 jobs from 1998, and has averaged 160,000 during the first four months of this year.

The numbers may show that new media entertainment firms, such as those in digital animation, are making up for the loss of traditional production jobs, according to Jack Kyser, chief economist with the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.

New media cancels losses

“If these numbers hold, it would somewhat refute claims of overall job losses due to runaway production,” said Kyser, who analyzed the figures as part of a Film Indus-try Profile released this week. “The results are somewhat counter-intuitive, so I believe we are seeing new media jobs showing up.”

All but about 12,000 of the state jobs are in the Los Angeles area.

Job numbers in the motion picture business are difficult to calculate because of the extensive use of independent contractors on a project basis. The preliminary state numbers are based on employer contributions to unemployment insurance.

Kyser said the strike by actors unions against advertisers, now in its eighth week, could hold down employment growth if the strike continues for a significant amount of time.

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