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TV program surge drives biz job gain

Number's far short of the peak of 174,400 jobs in 1999

The local job market in entertainment is continuing its steady increase this year with 3,100 new slots — representing a 1.9% gain — to boost the Hollywood total to 161,300, according to a study issued today.

The figure, according to the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., will edge up by 0.8% with another 2,000 new jobs in 2006. Still, that number’s far short of the peak of 174,400 jobs in 1999.

“Most of the good news is due to increased demand for content, particularly in TV,” said Jack Kyser, LAEDC chief economist. “It’s across the board for both network shows and for cable networks producing their own programming.”

The agency’s breakdown of employment for 2005 includes 2,000 new jobs for a total of 130,800 in the general motion picture and sound industries; 400 new jobs in independent artists, writers and performers for a total of 11,100; and 700 new jobs in broadcasting for a total of 19,400.

The forecast also said runaway production remains a problem for keeping jobs in Hollywood, given improved incentives from Canada and other states such as New York. Kyser said the outlook for aid from the state of California is murky.

“Gov. Schwarzenegger has proposed an incentive package, but this has met with skepticism is Sacramento (being labeled ‘corporate welfare’),” Kyser wrote in the report. “Unrecognized is the tax revenue generated by production of filming entertainment over and above the taxes on wages.”

In Los Angeles, the number of off-lot permitted TV days totaled 4,675, according to the Entertainment Industry Development Corp., including a March tally of 2,121 days — the second-highest number since the EIDC began issuing permits a decade ago. First-quarter activity edged down 6% compared with the 2004 period, which saw an all-time record of 2,466 days in March.

The EIDC said at least 131 television pilots were produced during the 2005 production season, and it noted that changes to the programming landscape — original programming by cable networks, a shift away from reruns in favor of midseason replacement shows and a trend toward year-round original programming — has expanded the season to nearly five months, from December to mid-April.

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