Be careful with stats

Today's LAT story on the big drop in L.A. location shooting had one line that stood out:

Los Angeles' entertainment industry lost more than 22,000 jobs in January alone, more than any other sector, according to the California Employment Development Department -- roughly 10% of the available workforce.

Well yes, that is true as far as it goes. But the story didn't mention that almost 10,000 jobs were added in February, to 122,200. The piece also doesn't say that going back to 2000, entertainment employment in L.A. County has bounced around quite a bit. As recently as last November, when the overall economy was practically on life support, employment totaled 141,400. Mostly, the figure has run between 125,000 and 135,000 - in good times and not-so-good times. Losing 22,000 jobs in January is significant, but not that surprising. We are, after all, in the middle of the worst downturn since the Great Depression. And even with that, there were 122,200 payroll jobs in February (March numbers are due on Friday).

I wouldn't bring any of this up, except that the LAT story has been picked up by the wires and Larry Mantle had a segment on KPCC this morning about Hollywood employment. So the 22,000 number is making the rounds - and it's very misleading. The Hollywood economy is way more complicated than any other L.A. industry and an isolated stat can sometimes distort the picture.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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