Media, entertainment layoffs decrease in July

125 pink slips handed out last month vs. 708 in June

The bleeding of media and entertainment jobs seems to have slowed significantly, according to data released Wednesday.

In July, just 125 layoffs at media companies were announced, down from 708 the month before that and the lowest number so far this year, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

In fact, in the past six years the media sector notched only one month when fewer jobs were lost: in March 2005, when 111 layoffs were announced. Speaking long-term, more emblematic of the sorry state of the jobs market for the media industry are the 2,853 layoffs in July 2009 and the 2,168 layoffs in the July before that.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas breaks down the U.S. economy into 25 sectors, and "media" lost the fourth fewest jobs in July. Performing the worst was "government/nonprofit," which shed 7,193 jobs as local and state layoffs overwhelmed hiring at the federal level.

The company lists "entertainment/leisure" as a separate category that includes theme parks, movie theaters, hotels and casinos. Those industries laid off 680 people in July.

Also related to media and entertainment is the "telecommunications" category, which includes the cable and satellite TV companies. That category lost 1,199 jobs in July.

Among the media and entertainment companies announcing large numbers of layoffs so far this year:

-- Disney, which shut down its Zemeckis Studio and laid off 450 workers, got rid of 400 jobs at ABC News and closed most of its ESPN Zone restaurants, causing another 294 layoffs.

-- Sony Pictures, which laid off 450 people in a restructuring.

-- Time Warner Cable, which laid off 350 in a restructuring.

-- Netflix, which cut 160 jobs in a consolidation.

-- Cinram, which cut 482 jobs in cust-cutting measures.

All 25 categories combined lost 41,676 jobs in July, bringing the total to 339,353 so far this year, 64% fewer jobs lost than in the same seven months last year. California is No. 1 in jobs lost, with 55,122 so far this year, and New York, at 52,481, is second worst.

Combining the categories of media, entertainment/leisure and telecommunications, 2001 was the worst year this decade, when 317,777 jobs were lost. Last year, a comparatively small 44,068 jobs were lost in those three categories combined and so far this year just 17,204 jobs were shed.