Hollywood’s jobs picture has brightened considerably over the last two months.
The film, television and music industries in Los Angeles County generated 131,600 jobs in March, up 7.9% from February and 12.6% from the same month a year ago, according to the latest state employment data compiled by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.
The figures — which do not count those who work as freelancers or independent contractors — show a marked turnaround from January, when employment in the motion picture and sound recording sector plunged to just 106,500 jobs, the lowest level since January 2001.
In fact, March’s jobs total was the highest level in L.A.’s entertainment sector since late 2008, noted Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist for the LAEDC.
He attributed the gains to an upswing in local filming this year, especially in television production. Location production in L.A. jumped 18% in the first quarter of this year, partly driven by a robust television pilot season.
The increased film production activity, Kleinhenz said, offset job losses at some studios, including DreamWorks Animation, which announced in February it was laying off 350 employees. El Segundo-based visual effects studio Rhythm & Hues also laid off more than 200 workers in February before filing for bankruptcy protection.
The job gains in entertainment helped lower L.A.’s overall unemployment rate in February to 10.3%, compared with 11.6% in February 2012. The private sector in February added 99,000 jobs, with the largest gains in construction and information, a category that includes entertainment, according to the LAEDC.
Statewide, California’s unemployment rate was 9.6 % in February, down from 10.8% a year ago.