The U.S. television and film industry has become a bigger employer than commodities and energy, according to an analysis by the Motion Picture Association of America.
The production and distribution of TV shows and movies directly employ more people in 34 states than the combined total from the mining, oil and natural-gas industries, it said.
The trade group’s report illustrates how broadly the U.S. entertainment industry has grown beyond the known creative enclaves of Los Angeles and New York. Jobs in television and film directly generated $76 billion in wages, with salaries that are 47 percent higher than the national average, the group said. The analysis of 2017 U.S. economic data was partly delayed by the government shutdown earlier this year, and included jobs linked to pay television for the first time, the MPAA said.
The entertainment industry has spread across the U.S., beyond Southern California where the warm, sunny climate drew filmmakers to build the first production companies at the turn of the 20th century. Other states — including Georgia, Louisiana and Illinois — have used subsidies to draw production away from California to create their own thriving hubs.
“This industry supports jobs and businesses in all 50 states and is also highly competitive globally — generating $17.2 billion in exports and a positive balance of trade in every major market in the world,” Charles Rivkin, chairman and chief executive officer of the MPAA, said in a statement.
The U.S. film and television industry has a trade surplus of $10.3 billion, 4 percent of the country’s total surplus in services, the analysis showed. Showing the importance of the industry to exports will likely draw attention to the plight of major media companies seeking better trade deals with China, where their access is limited. The industry exports more than telecommunications, transportation, mining or the legal or insurance industries, the MPAA said.
The use of taxpayer funds to support the entertainment industry isn’t always popular with lawmakers. Some states have removed or revised programs over the years. California, hoping to take advantage, recently revamped its subsidies for film and television to help draw shows and movie productions back to the state.
Besides directly employing 927,000 people, the industry made $44 billion in payments to local businesses, supporting 2.6 million jobs indirectly, the trade body said.