Showbiz to boost regional economy

LAEDC says Los Angeles area is poised for modest gains

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. says Hollywood will lead the region to modest economic gains during the next couple of years.

In releasing its annual forecast Wednesday, the LAEDC said "measured economic recovery is under way in the nation, the state and Southern California." The regional economic group projected stronger growth for 2011, led by improvements in entertainment, international trade and tourism.

"Like the national experience, unemployment rates in the state will remain high," the group warned. The LAEDC forecast a 12% California jobless rate for 2010, with less than 1% improvement next year.

As for Hollywood, the group predicted that 3,000-4,000 workers will join entertainment industry payrolls in 2010 following last year's 9,000-job decline in the sector.

LAEDC economist Jack Kyser said the state's tax-based production incentives have helped in reversing the flight of film and TV projects to other Canada and elsewhere.

"After some rough years job-wise, the motion picture/TV production industry is benefiting from the state's incentive program, a pickup in commercial production and a burst of pilot orders from both the broadcast TV networks as well as cable channels," he said.

Booming boxoffice has strengthened film-side operations, and "the fortunes of the broadcast TV networks improved in the second half of 2009, and they celebrated in early 2010 by going on a pilot-buying binge," the LAEDC said.

Overall, the group said its midyear economic grade of B-minus for Hollywood has improved to a solid B.

But the LAEDC warned that several areas of concern remain, including a continued slide in DVD revenue, lingering film piracy and runaway production, which it rated "still a threat despite the introduction of the state's incentive program."

More happily among near-term prospects, "there should be no labor issues," the LAEDC noted.