How California’s creative workforce is faring post-COVID: Report

CALIFORNIA — California’s creative industries have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels and beyond, according to a recent report from the University of California’s Riverside School of Business. A recent deep dive into California’s creative economy, looking at numbers from 2015 to 2021, shows that digital publishing has added some of the highest paying jobs to California’s creative market. With creative career opportunities still on the rise, digital publishing could be California’s next economic gold rush.

Creative economic jobs include those in architecture, fashion, creative goods and products (non-fashion related), entertainment, fine arts (including performing arts) and media (including digital edition), according to the business school report. In 2020, when the pandemic hit, creative jobs were “decimated”, according to a recent report by Women’s World Daily. The California fashion industry suffered some of the biggest losses during the coronavirus recession and continues to be in decline. Yet the entertainment and media sectors remain afloat and even thriving.

The business school’s study “Shock and Roll: California’s Creative Economy from 2015-2021” shows trends in California’s creative employment markets before, during, and after the pandemic. Since 2015, the creative economy in California has created 70,064 jobs in the market. In 2019, California’s creative economy was approaching historic highs. However, the 2020 pandemic halted economic growth. The Riverside researchers say the state appears to be “rebounding to its 2019 pre-pandemic peak.”

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Even with the economic downturn of the pandemic, California added 125,885 jobs in the digital publishing and media industry, making it the most active creative industry in 2022.

The number of creative workforce jobs has increased by 8% overall since 2015, according to the study, and the salaries of creative workers in California, which were “1.8 times the average salary of California workers ” in 2015, are now 2.35 times. higher, the study shows.

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Media salaries are still on the rise, a trend welcomed by the average worker, according to the UCR report.

“In 2021, media salaries per capita were $66,404, their highest level during the period,” the report said.

Non-media service industries, including entertainment, fine arts and architecture, saw their salaries fall during this period, however, no profession was hit harder than fine arts.

Evolution of employment in California’s creative economy by major sub-sector: 2015-2021. (UCR Center for Economic Forecasts)

As expected, creative jobs in the fine arts and entertainment industries have suffered due to “health-imposed restrictions on group activities”, according to the study.

Meanwhile, jobs in architecture and related fields remain on the rise. The big winner in the creative market in California remains jobs in digital publishing.

Ultimately, no industry has grown faster during this period than media.

“He was able to add jobs to the California economy even as those jobs became better paying,” the authors wrote.

Patrick Adler, research director at the Center for Economic Forecasting and one of the report’s authors, explained why California is at “the global epicenter of the creative economy even after the pandemic.”

According to Adler, trends that were “ongoing” when the pandemic arrived and changes since have shown that “the disruption of 2020” hasn’t stopped California’s creative economy from making great strides. digital media, the creative economy would have lost more than 55,000 jobs.

Adler said California leaders should be concerned about declining entertainment and creative manufacturing jobs and “pleased” with the “long-term outlook for digital publishing jobs in the state.”

These sentiments are reflected by the Otis College of Art and Design, a school that has been studying the creative economy since 2007. Charles Hirschhorn, President of Otis College, said, “We live in extraordinary times.”

Otis College is a leading training institute for the next generation of designers, from fashion designers to artists, toy designers to digital animators, according to Hirschhorn.

“We had to reinvent art and design education (during the pandemic),” he said. “Now the world is looking to the creative economy to inspire and reimagine how we all recover and return to our communities and economies post-pandemic.”

The full analysis is available here. The appendix is ​​available here, on the University of California, Riverside website.

Michael A. Bynum