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No, 890K Entertainment Jobs Have Not Been Lost Due to the Coronavirus

Pandemic Hollywood Placeholder
Jeff Hinchee for Variety

L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger made a doozy of a misstatement at her press conference on Wednesday, saying that 890,000 entertainment industry jobs have been lost due to the coronavirus.

The figure was quoted widely, even though it is obviously wrong.

According to a Motion Picture Association report issued in February, 892,000 people work in the entertainment industry, total, nationwide.

That is not their estimate for the number of people who are out of work.

Barger got the number from a county economic task force meeting held on Tuesday, in which Universal chairman Donna Langley participated.

“To level-set, the Motion Picture Association estimated that the film and TV industry directly employs 892,000 people, most of whom are not working today,” Langley said in the meeting.

Barger’s office acknowledged Wednesday afternoon that she misspoke.

The MPA has not given a formal estimate of the total number of jobs lost. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on May 8 that 217,000 jobs had been lost in the category of “motion picture and sound recording.”

The MPA defines industry jobs more broadly than the BLS, using more granular data that will not be available for many months.

According to the MPA’s estimates, there were about 319,000 total jobs in film and TV production before the pandemic hit. The vast majority of those are presumed to not be working, although some voiceover actors and animators are still able to work. Another 147,000 people work in movie theaters — of which, again, the vast majority are assumed to be out of work.

So, broadly speaking, there could be something close to 465,000 jobs lost in those two categories.

But that is not much more than a guess.