Film Biz Adds 21,000 Jobs In February

The film industry added 21,000 jobs in February. That is a 5% increase over January.

Moody’s Analytics economist Eduardo Martinez says the gains reflect a broader economic recovery. The entire U.S. economy added 236,000 jobs. According to Martinez, a jump in production permits for shooting commercials in Los Angeles corresponds with the growth in hiring.

It’s normal for hiring in the film industry to increase in February, just usually not this much. The Labor Department double checked its numbers to make sure there wasn’t some mistake.

Just last November, the film and TV industry in L.A. was concerned that Hollywood had lost 16,000 jobs since 2004 as more and more productions moved out of the state.

The addition of 21,000 jobs last year doesn’t necessarily alleviate Hollywood’s concerns because the new jobs were added nation-wide, in places where film tax credits have proven irresistible to filmmakers.

Louisiana passed generous tax credits for film production in 2004, and in 2012, 46 feature films and television shows were filmed just in New Orleans. According to Katie Williams, director of Film New Orleans in the mayor’s office of cultural economy, the state has built a strong, professional labor force:

“When a movie comes here, they’re not bringing much; they’re bringing what we call the above the line, which is the directors, the producers, the people who are setting the creative vision, but every crew below the line, which tends to be about 150 to 200 people for every movie, are local citizens, our neighbors, our coworkers who are working in this industry providing not only the services, but also the skills.”

Stephen Bronars, senior economist with Welch Consulting, believes Hollywood will spend more on the production of movies as the economy gets better:

“My conjecture is that Hollywood thinks that with the economy turning around, it’s going to be a better year in the summer and late in the year when blockbusters tend to be released.”