A wave of unemployment hit the U.S. amid the coronavirus pandemic and public measures to get it under control and jobs in creative fields are no exception.
While the U.S. unemployment rate is hovering around 8 percent, or more than 12.5 million people without jobs, compared to less than 4 percent in March, the rate of unemployment in Los Angeles is actually almost twice as high. In September, unemployment in L.A. stood at 15.9 percent. And, according to a report from Otis College and Beamon Economics, it’s estimated that 284,000 of those lost jobs are in the “creative economy” in L.A.
“As businesses and organizations attempt to adapt to COVID-19 protocols, activities that are key to many creative sectors remain challenging,” the report said.
Since February, L.A. jobs in fashion have fallen by 17 percent, while jobs in design and manufacturing declined by 4 percent, entertainment and digital media by 18 percent, and the fine arts by 39 percent.
Things like factory work in the apparel sector, for instance, deemed “essential business” during the pandemic and allowed to operate, require many workers in relatively close proximity, a huge risk for the spread of the virus. Dov Charney’s L.A. apparel factory was shut down by health officials after 300 of his workers caught the virus. And workplaces in general, under state requirements for reopening, need to enforce social distancing, mask wearing and have more access to hand washing. Film production has also struggled, with rates of production in L.A. still down 61 percent in the third quarter, compared to last year. Employment in film and TV is down 44 percent.
So as businesses have been unable to adapt or create pandemic-appropriate work environments, people have lost their jobs. The Otis report said that another 394,000 jobs could be lost related to the creative sector, which includes fashion design and manufacture, entertainment and fine arts. This will be due to the “secondary impact” of less demand and economic activity from the contraction of the creative sector.
Taken together the report estimates that the overall impact could mean 678,000 jobs lost and $58.4 billion in lost wages and income for people.
“The creative industries are key drivers of regional economies across the U.S. and intrinsic to economic growth in California,” Adam Fowler, research director at Beacon Economics, said in a note. “As we begin to map out our economic recovery from the pandemic, we need additional measures at the federal, state and local levels to provide targeted support for the creative sector.”
Overall, the report found that the loss of jobs in the creative sector will reduce California’s economic output annually by $160 billion.