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Latest Otis College Report on the Creative Economy Details Changes in Entertainment Workforce

Sony Studios
The industry is more white-collar and racially diverse than ever, less dependent on film and TV and more on creators, gaming, and live events.

Otis College of Art and Design has released a study on the evolution of Los Angeles’s entertainment labor force over the last decade. Produced in collaboration with Westwood Economics & Planning Associates, it is the second topical report released as part of the Otis College Report on the Creative Economy research program.  The first report, released in December 2023, assessed the impact of the dual Writers Guild (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild (SAG/AFTRA) strikes as well as the decline of Peak TV. 

The findings of this new report shed light on the shapeshifting Los Angeles entertainment industry as it continues to evolve:

  • During the 2023 strikes, the L.A. region’s share of national Film and TV employment fell precipitously to 27%, compared to 35% just the year before. Despite growth in Film and TV jobs outside the region, L.A. remains the industry leader.
  • Hollywood relies less on Film and TV jobs than it has in at least 30 years. In 2013, the Film and TV industry made up 64% of Los Angeles County’s Greater Entertainment Industry; this share has fallen to 52% today.
  • Employment is down 9.1% (12,900 jobs) from 2013 to 2024 for the traditional entertainment industries of Film and TV, Sound, Print Media, and Broadcasting.
  • At the same time, other aspects of the entertainment industry have been gaining employment, up 53%, or 28,000 jobs over the same period in such areas as Software Publishing, Media Streaming, Performing Arts, Spectator Sports and Related Industries, and Independent Artists.
  • An industry that once provided more opportunities for non-college-educated workers has become a relatively exclusive club, providing opportunities predominantly for college-educated workers. The share of college workers in the industry increased from 46% in 2000 to 68% in 2022.
  • As the industry has become more white-collar, it has also become more racially diverse. In 2022, for the first time, the majority of Greater Entertainment workers in L.A. were nonwhite.

This study is the first attempt to understand how recent technologies have changed Hollywood’s labor force. Westwood Economics—an economic consultancy specializing in local economic development, sustainable transitions, and the creative economy—produced a detailed labor force analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and California Employment Development Department (EDD) data, from 2013 up through last year’s strike period; key informant interviews with industry players and policy officials also were conducted.

“This report serves as a roadmap for the diverse community of creative students at Otis College as they enter the greater entertainment workforce,” says Otis College President Charles Hirschhorn. “My hope is that the trends identified in this study and our ongoing Otis College Report on the Creative Economy give industry leaders and policymakers insight into the needs of an evolving workforce, one that requires more training, investment, and education than ever before.”

The Otis College Report on the Creative Economy that was issued in December 2023 found a substantial contraction in Hollywood employment since the start of the WGA and SAG/AFTRA strikes, with 24,799 workers losing their jobs. But more importantly, the research showed that the strikes were just one part of a longer-term contraction in the industry that began well before the pandemic. Since the industry’s post-pandemic employment high in August 2022, it had shrunk by 26%.

“Los Angeles is still the apex of the entertainment industry, but the industry itself is undergoing once-in-a-generation changes. It is less dependent on film and television studios, more oriented towards online content creation, live events and gaming, and also much more technical and managerial than ever,” says Dr. Patrick Adler, principal at Westwood Economics and Planning Associates and assistant professor at The University of Hong Kong. “What it means to work in Hollywood is starkly different today than even 10 years ago.”

New Creative Economy Research

On Thursday, June 6, Otis College and Westwood Economics will release the next edition of the  Otis College Report on the Creative Economy. Hosted at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, the launch event will include a networking reception, a presentation of findings by Westwood Economics, the introduction of Otis College’s new creative economy dashboard, and a panel discussion about strengthening Los Angeles’s position as a global hub of the creative economy. Panelists include:

  • Kristin Sakoda, Director, Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture
  • Jim Shepherd, Director, Global Creator Partnerships, Snap Inc.
  • Kenny Gravillis, CEO & Chief Creative Officer, Gravillis Inc.
  • Amy Homma, Chief Audience Officer, The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

The networking reception starts at 9:00 a.m. and the launch event starts at 10:00 a.m. More information and the link to register to attend the release event in person or via Zoom is on Eventbrite.

Main image: Photograph by Christian Joudrey/Unsplash.