Entertainment and Media Jobs Decline in March, Despite Overall Gains Nationwide

The industry dips came even as a robust 303,000 jobs were added to the U.S. labor rolls last month

A set.
Film studio.

U.S. employers added a solid 303,000 jobs in March, dropping the unemployment rate back down to 3.8%, but the media and entertainment industries didn’t share in the boom.

Jobs in motion picture and sound recording fell by 2,600 to 438,400 last month, from 441,000 in February, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday. Though still well above the 422,900 jobs recorded in this segment a year ago, the loss reverses a steady beat of hiring in the months since the end of the Hollywood strikes.

Still, the decline is far less than the 45,000 jobs lost due to the strikes. Jobs in broadcasting and content providers also fell, by 2,300, to 341,500. That reversed a small uptick in February but is down by 9,900 from a year ago.

A marginal decline of 500 jobs was also recorded in the broad category of “web search portals, libraries, archives and other information services.”

The broader “arts, entertainment and recreation” sector, which includes spectator sports and performing arts, did see an uptick, adding 17,500 jobs to 2,647,300. That could in part reflect the start of baseball season and the reopening of Major League Baseball stadiums and other warm-weather venues.

While no major layoffs were announced in March, the declines likely reflect the shakeout from a brutal wave of cuts in media in January and a round of layoffs at Paramount in February, along with cutbacks at studios and other cost-cutting measures as media and entertainment companies face a variety of challenges, including declining ad revenues, fewer website traffic referrals and consumer confusion amid the messy streaming environment.

But while the information and entertainment industries struggle, the rest of the economy appears to be largely purring along. The jobs added last month came in well ahead of the 200,000 forecast by economists, The Associated Press reported. The robust growth appears to reflect the economy’s ability to withstand the high cost of borrowing and nagging inflation.

The unemployment rate also dropped a fraction, to 3.8% in March from 3.9% in February. The rate has now been below 4% for 26 straight months, which The AP labeled the longest such streak since the 1960s.

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