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Study: 'Creative economy' sees large job loss

Orange County's visual and performing arts workforce slashed nearly a third between 2007 and 2010.

December 22, 2011|From the Los Angeles Times

Kimberly Ritter, one of the economists who compiled the report, said the result for Orange County — an average salary of $36,161 for visual and performing arts workers — gives "a better idea of what the rank and file is getting." Orange County has no major film and television producers or record labels cutting big checks for big names. Nonprofit organizations do most of the hiring, and although average pay was up 7.6% over 2007, it was less than a fifth the L.A. County average. Meanwhile, O.C.'s visual and performing arts workforce was slashed nearly a third between 2007 and 2010, falling to 2,400.

Within the visual and performing arts category for the two counties, there were 10,200 "independent artists and writers" in 2010, down from 10,400 in 2005, the year for which more detailed job description analyses were available. However, agencies and management companies that handle those artists and writers saw their ranks increase 38.3% over the five years, to 6,500. Employment took a hit among musical groups, falling from 4,400 to 3,000. Theater companies saw an increase from 2,200 workers to 2,700; fluctuations were slight for museums (4,000 employees in 2010) and dance companies (200 employees).

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The category that the Otis report labels "entertainment" includes Hollywood's non-performing technicians and behind-the-scenes production employees. It's by far the biggest group in the region's creative economy, with a combined $12.1 billion payroll for the two counties in 2010. Average pay came to $100,578, a 4.4% increase above 2007. But there was still plenty of pain to go around: employment fell 7.9%, from 131,600 to 121,100.

From 2005 to 2010, jobs in motion picture and video production declined 7.7%; jobs in sound recording fell from 3,800 to 3,100, and cable broadcasting took the worst hit, down 25% to 5,400. Jobs in post-production services increased slightly, to 9,000.

Architecture and interior design, a field highly vulnerable to Southern California's real estate and construction bust, suffered a 36% job loss between 2007 and 2010.

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