According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in figures released Friday, the film, TV and music industries shed 17,000 jobs last month. “Information employment changed little in August (-15,000),” the BLS wrote of the larger sector in which the entertainment industry resides.
“Within the industry, employment in motion picture and sound recording industries decreased by 17,000, reflecting strike activity. Job losses continued in telecommunications (-4,000),” the BLS added.
The disclosure was released as part of the BLS’ August employment report. The (mostly positive) report saw the U.S. unemployment rate rise from 3.5 percent to 3.8 percent, but saw job growth come in much better than expected, with a net gain of 187,000 jobs, led by the health care, leisure and hospitality, and construction sectors. The rise in the overall unemployment rate was due to about 700,000 people entering the labor force.
The BLS report is one of the first independent, credible sources of information to attach a number to the larger job impact of the strikes. The WGA went on strike in May, but some film and TV production continued in the weeks that followed. The SAG-AFTRA strike, which began in mid-July, appears to have taken a larger toll on the industry.
Beyond the striking workers, the impact of the strikes has led to layoffs at other businesses in Hollywood, including at production companies, talent agencies, and businesses that have traditionally relied on the Hollywood studio system for their income.
The striking writers and actors, of course, are seeking an employment agreement that they believe will benefit their union members, ultimately providing them with more reliable income and a stronger safety net.
As union leaders have noted, however, they did not make the strike call lightly, with everyone in the business acutely aware of the larger economic impact.
On Thursday, California State Treasurer Fiona Ma sent a letter to the studios asking them to return to the negotiating table. “The impact of these two strikes paralyzes Hollywood and reverberates across the state, affecting countless businesses, thousands of pension fund beneficiaries and millions of Californians,” Ma wrote.
The BLS report put an early number to those concerns.