Study: Show Biz Jobs Up in L.A. into 2008

Runaway production remains an economic drag on Los Angeles, but the entertainment industry will add 3,000 jobs in the area, and work here rose for the second consecutive year in 2005, according to a study set for release today.

In Los Angeles, the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County and three smaller, nearby cities, "production days" on feature films rose from 8,707 in 2004 to 9,518 last year, according to a midyear update from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

Until 2004, location production days had fallen for seven years in a row, a function of runaway production, LAEDC chief economist Jack Kyser said. Even after two years of rebound, feature film production days are well off the 13,980 in the peak year of 1996.

While feature film production days mostly have declined for 10 years, television shows, commercials, music videos and other productions mostly have been climbing, from 30,002 in 1996 to 41,502 last year.

Kyser maintains that the damage done by the runaway production of feature films outweighs the strength seen in other areas.

"You do your best with a feature film. They are job- and tax-revenue rich," he said.

Kyser lamented that California legislators have failed to pass incentives to keep production in the state, as have many other states. He suggested that one reason is that large movie studios are not perceived as being in need of special privileges.

"Sacramento is not a rational place," he said. "They don't understand that this is an industry of small- to medium-size businesses. They see it as an industry with a lot of money and unusual accounting that will always be here."

Nevertheless, the entertainment industry, comprising TV, radio and cable broadcasting and motion pictures, appears poised to add 3,000 jobs this year, 2,400 in 2007 and 2,600 in 2008. In 2005, the industry lost 1,500 jobs.

Including independent contractors, there was an average of 241,100 entertainment workers last year, making it the third-largest industry in Los Angeles, behind direct international trade (290,300) and tourism (263,500).

Other problems the LAEDC notes in its report are the risks that various union negotiations "get so heated that there is a strike, real or de facto"; that reality TV shows could fade because "the creative well here is a tad dry"; and that industrial land space is on the decline.

Kyser said that, several years ago, 8% of the land in Los Angeles was designated for industrial use while today it is down to 5%, which could drive up costs for or reduce competition in the set storage, equipment rental and other such businesses on which the entertainment industry depends.

Paul Bond writes for The Hollywood Reporter.

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