For nearly 100 years, the MPA data-research team has served as a valuable resource for members and for workers in the media, the government and the general public.

The data efforts don’t date back to the first years of the association, “unfortunately,” says Julia Jenks, VP of worldwide research. But since the fact-gathering began, the mission of those who assemble and analyze “the numbers” is rooted in the original MPA charter of purpose: An association designed to serve its members with impeccable accuracy and integrity.

Providing high-quality research is essential to the industry’s lobbying efforts with government and public relations and, as a central clearinghouse, the MPA is uniquely positioned to process that data. Truly industry-wide analytics would be well-nigh impossible for any one member to collect from others, given legal requirements and duties to owners and shareholders.

Moreover, data from the all-important Bureau of Labor Statistics aren’t easily digestible by MPA constituents. The work of Jenks and her colleagues is geared to be clearly read and understood, enlightening all and reducing prohibitive and wasteful cost duplication.

Jim Orr, president of domestic distribution for Universal, tells Variety, “The MPA provides absolutely critical data and expert insight on a variety of crucial industry topics including marketplace conditions, industry trends, anti-piracy issues as well as an enormous amount of analytical insight and effective advocacy relating to the global creative economy.”

A report on 2020 shows that entertainment generated $17.3 billion in global exports; its $9.6 billion positive surplus is larger than the telecom, transportation or health-related service sectors. Taxes accruing from industry amount to $31 billion per year as of 2020.

There are 750,000 direct industry jobs; they support ancillary jobs, from caterers and equipment suppliers to retail and theme park employees. All told, there are 2.2 million jobs.

Of some interest are the report’s insights into COVID’s effects starting from the March 2020 lockdown. But 2021 data are still incomplete, so the ability to prognosticate how quickly the industry is regaining its pre-COVID economic levels is limited.

Still, a preliminary look at the partial 2021 data shows promising signs (“a ray of light,” in Jenks’s words), the most visible being an uptick in permits issued in Los Angeles for production and location shooting — always a key signifier of film and television activity — and a steady rollout of movies, series and specials from the networks and paid streaming services.

Indicators point to the industry being on the recovery road. And when the MPA data team issues a clean bill of health, you can bank on it.