Inside one of 9b Apparel's Los Angeles factories

California’s creative economy is growing and beginning to show signs of recovery.

That’s according to Otis College of Art and Design’s annual report on the state’s creative economy. The study analyzes across a five-year period the employment and economic impacts of the area’s art galleries, architecture firms, toy design, fashion, entertainment and other creative industries.

California ranked number one among states with the largest number of creatives in 2015, counting 747,600 jobs. That was followed by New York (478,100), Texas (230,600), Florida (175,800) and Illinois (171,000).

“One of the key takeaways, given the five-year period we’re looking at, we’re finally starting to see the effects of the recession fade,” said Kimberly Ritter-Martinez, an economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.’s Institute for Applied Economics, which prepared the report for Otis. “Employment went up across the board. It was really good to see the fashion industry post a small gain in this period.”

Total jobs within the state’s fashion industry — which includes textile mills, apparel manufacturers, wholesalers, footwear, handbags, cosmetics, jewelry and other design services — in 2015 was 119,800, representing a 3.4 percent increase from 2010. The total is expected to notch a modest gain in 2020 of about 1.4 percent to 121,500 jobs, according to the report.

Payroll income across California’s 12 fashion industry segments totaled $84.4 billion in 2015, which represents an increase across those sectors during the study’s 2010-15 reporting period.

While the industry is seeing continued declines in textile and apparel manufacturing, wholesale jobs are making gains along with cosmetics and jewelry.

The industry will likely continue to see the impacts of overseas manufacturing and improvements in technology on textile and apparel manufacturing moving forward, Ritter-Martinez said.

Higher end lines that are able to afford the high cost of manufacturing within the state will likely remain in cases where it’s still beneficial for a local designer to walk the factory floor, she added.

“Even though we’ve seen a lot of job losses in the fashion industry, it’s not as big as it was 10 years ago,” Ritter-Martinez said. “So I think with the design base that we have here, that part of the industry is going to continue to grow because it’s supported by strong design programs at schools like Otis and [Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising]. It’s still an important part of the L.A. economy.”

Entertainment continued to dominate the state’s creative economy with 171,500 jobs in 2015, with publishing and printing the second largest with 154,200 jobs.

“What is really interesting about L.A.’s creative economy is that while it is dominated by the entertainment industry, so much of what goes on in L.A. spreads out from the entertainment sector,” Ritter-Martinez said. “It influences fashion. It influences toy design through licensing agreements. It’s related to digital media. There’s a really tight-knit, interweaving of all these industries that all depend and rely on each other.”

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