Otis College analysis finds continued local growth in technology, entertainment, design and the arts

By Gary Walker

In Greater Los Angeles, creativity is a $190.3-billion business and growing, according to an economic analysis commissioned by the Otis College of Art and Design in Westchester.

The 2017 Otis Report on the Creative Economy examines the direct and induced impact of industries that deal in innovation, art and ideas — including fields such as entertainment, digital media, design, fashion, architecture and visual or performance art.

The report prepared by the L.A. County Economic Development Corporation with 2015 data concludes that creative industries directly supported 429,400 jobs in the Greater Los Angeles region (including Orange County) and indirectly supported or induced another 329,600 jobs through the procurement of goods and services. Those 759,000 jobs — about one in eight throughout the region — accounted for $56.9 billion in total labor income.

Direct employment in creative professions increased 7.9% since 2010, creating 31,700 new jobs, and is expected to increase another 5.1% by 2020.

And while the New York metropolitan area can boast the highest number of creative industry jobs, L.A. had the highest proportion of them in terms of the local economy — 8.6% of all workers in the region, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data cited in the Otis report (these figures differ slightly on the total number of jobs).

Otis College of Art and Design President Bruce Ferguson said the school’s annual economic report has not only become a valuable tool for economists, civic leaders and policymakers, it serves as a barometer of the economic prospects for Otis students after graduation.

“When we started this, what we really wanted to know was what kind of economic environment our students would be going into,” Ferguson said.

The good news is that rising employment numbers mean the state is on track for a more stable economic landscape.

“We’re finally into the full recovery cycle. We’ve started to see some wage gains and some real job growth,” said Kimberly Ritter-Martinez, an economist with the L.A. County Economic Development Corporation’s Kyser Center for Economic Research and one of the Otis report’s authors.

She believes the jobs created through innovation and creativity from high tech companies are durable and have become an integral part of not only L.A.’s but all of California’s overall economy.

“California has one of the largest and most diverse economies in the world. The fact that creative jobs are such a high proportion of the economy is an important indicator for the state’s future growth,” she said. “We’re not talking about a monolithic entity: We’re incorporating 12 different subsectors of the economy. So we’re looking at a lot of diversity here.”

LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce President Christina Davis said the Otis report has been instrumental in highlighting the economic impact of the arts, which had often been considered a small part of or neglected as apart from other economic pursuits.

“They’ve reframed the discussion about the arts. There is an art component to so many aspects of the creative economy, and it’s wonderful to see how the arts have been woven into the fabric of the business community on so many levels,” Davis said.

Managing editor Joe Piasecki contributed to this report.