New Study Reveals Impact of Creative Jobs on L.A. County’s Economy


Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW); Beacon Economics

In the latest study of Los Angeles County’s creative economy conducted by the Otis College of Art and Design, the fashion industry was the only one of the creative industries that saw a decrease in employment. The decrease came even though the fashion industry has the second-largest share of creative-industry jobs in Los Angeles County.

The 2019 edition of the report, called the “2019 Report on the Creative Economy” and released Feb. 1, was researched by the Los Angeles–based firm Beacon Economics. The 2019 report, which studied the creative industry between 2010 and 2017, analyzed five major industries: entertainment and digital media, creative goods and products, the fine and performing arts, architecture and related services, and fashion.

“The apparel industry is unique,” said Robert Kleinhenz, an economist and executive director of research at Beacon Economics. “We’ve seen those job losses mainly because of manufacturing going away, but it’s not that the fashion industry is going away,” Kleinhenz explained. “We may not be manufacturing the clothes, but the design work is not going anywhere.”

The report broke down the fashion-job market into subsectors, including textile mills, apparel manufacturing, apparel wholesaling, footwear manufacturing, footwear wholesaling, women’s handbag manufacturing, leather-goods manufacturing, jewelry manufacturing and jewelry wholesaling.

As creative jobs occupy more space within the Los Angeles County employment market, Kleinhenz was hopeful that these jobs would overlap with other fields, such as technology.

“There is a heavy influence between creative industries and the tech sector. There is a lot of overlap. A lot of the areas that saw a big job gain have some type of tech aspect to it,” he said. “There is always more opportunity to understand what that is like and capitalize on that.”

Compared with New York City, which is a large domestic creative hub, Los Angeles County proved to be an impressive source of professionals in these industries. According to the report, when examining employment figures within creative industries, Los Angeles County ranks as the United States’ largest hub.

When examined against its East Coast counterpart, Los Angeles County employs 10 percent more creative workers than the Big Apple. The fashion industry’s employment of workers in Los Angeles is also considerably larger than New York’s. Compared to New York City, Los Angeles County’s fashion segment employs approximately 24 percent more workers in the industry than the East Coast fashion giant.

According to Kleinhenz, the secret of Los Angeles’ large stake in creative-industry jobs could be that the connection between these positions isn’t always apparent.

“We have this huge assemblage of creative industries in Los Angeles County and California,” Kleinhenz said. “If we haven’t discovered them, there are probably many synergies between—and across—seemingly unrelated industries. By virtue of their commonality, I am sure that they have benefited from the cross-pollination because they are next to each other in the region.”

In 2017, private industry employed 3.8 million salaried and wage employees in Los Angeles County. Creative jobs occupied nearly 20 percent of those jobs. Of the 864,958 jobs generated by the creative economy in Los Angeles County, 488,456 professionals were employed in creative occupations across all industries, with 177,311 of these workers employed in noncreative industries.

Workers who were employed directly in creative industries numbered 419,945, of which 311,145 worked in creative occupations and 103,000 occupied noncreative jobs. Jobs indirectly generated from creative industries totaled 450,013.

In Los Angeles, 11 percent of the county’s total employment was traced to creative industries. Los Angeles County accounts for 40 percent of California’s direct creative-industry employment and one in three jobs indirectly generated from these industries throughout the state.