The U.S. economy has seen a steady erosion of jobs in the motion picture and sound industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Preliminary statistics from the BLS show that employment in those two industries has dropped to 298,000 in August — marking the first time in the past decade that the number has dropped below 300,000, and representing an 8% decline from 324,600 jobs in August 2013, and a 19% slide from 366,300 jobs in August 2012.
The monthly numbers began edging down in the latter half of 2013 to under 350,000, then slid to 329,900 in December. The figure slid to under 320,000 in February and plunged in May to 302,900.
The BLS report has been issued at a time of uncertainty in Hollywood. On Sept. 4, Warner Bros. Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara told the studio’s 8,000 employees that layoffs were coming at every level.
The industry has been hit by a sharp decline in domestic box office, with summer business generating the poorest total in eight years. Additionally, production incentives outside the U.S. have continue to lure producers to use international locations.
Kate Bedingfield, a spokesperson for the Motion Picture Association of America, pointed out that the BLS stats are a combo of Motion Picture and Sound Recording numbers. Since the specific industries are not broken out, it makes it impossible for the MPAA to assess the changes in its industry.
The BLS stats showed that average hourly earnings of $29.20 in July for all employees and $23.71 for non-supervisory employees.
The MPAA’s statistics for 2012 — the most recent period covered by the industry group — asserted that the industry supports a total of 1.9 million direct and indirect jobs for a total of $111 billion in total wages in 2012, with the direct jobs generating $46 billion in wages, and an average salary 43% higher than the national average.
“There were over 293,000 jobs in the core business of producing, marketing, manufacturing, and distributing motion pictures and television shows,” the MPAA said. “These are high quality jobs, with an average salary of $86,500, 76% higher than the average salary nationwide.”
The MPAA estimates that there were nearly 360,000 jobs in related businesses that distribute motion pictures and TV shows to consumers. The “indirect” jobs include caterers, dry cleaners, florists, hardware and lumber suppliers, and digital equipment suppliers. This also includes jobs in other fields that do business with consumers, such as DVD and Blu-ray retailers and employees at theme parks and tourist attractions.