The Long Reach of Industry Research

PIPA is, for the moment, dead in the water. Reid is not going to vote on cloture. His statement reads, in part:

…Counterfeiting and piracy cost the American economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year, with the movie industry alone supporting over 2.2 million jobs…

The part about “supporting 2.2 million jobs” looked familiar. Last night, I checked out when I heard that anonymous had knocked it down. It was already back up, and displayed prominently on the main page was the same “supporting 2.2 million jobs” claim. In more detail:

We support a national community of 2.2 million workers — costume designers to make-up artists, stuntmen to set builders, writers to actors, accountants to dry cleaners — employed in all 50 states of our union.

Their PDF fact sheet breaks things down a little more:

The industry is a major private sector employer, supporting 2.2 million jobs, and nearly $137 billion in total wages in 2009:

  • Direct industry jobs generated $40.5 billion in wages, and an average salary 26% higher than the national average:

    • There were nearly 272,000 jobs in the core business of producing, marketing, manufacturing, and distributing motion pictures and television shows. These are high quality jobs, with an average salary of nearly $79,000, 73% higher than the average salary nationwide.
    • Additionally, there were over 430,000 jobs in related businesses that distribute motion pictures and television shows to consumers.
  • Industry also supports indirect jobs and wages in thousands of companies with which it does business, such as caterers, dry cleaners, florists, hardware and lumber suppliers, and jobs in other companies doing business with consumers, such as video retailers, theme parks and tourist attractions

OK, so “support” means “do business with.” Fair enough, and by that metric I alone supported hundreds of grocers, bartenders, video retailers, laundromats, chefs, musicians, etc. in 2009. It is a far cry from the enumerated make-up artists, stuntmen, set builders, writers, and actors. Reid’s phrase, “the movie industry alone,” is similarly deceptive.

Most of those 2.2 million workers are the dry cleaners. And I think that very few of them would lose their jobs if the movie industry simply ceased to exist, which is not what is at stake.

Ironically, I see no reason why those “430,000 jobs in related businesses” couldn’t be jobs with companies involved in the piracy of movies, or, more reasonably, companies who would be fucked by the consequences of legislation like PIPA.

What is most irksome is that Reid is happy to parrot a misleading factoid directly from the MPAA’s website, when the government spends several billion dollars a year on the Census Bureau. Which does its own Economic Census every five years, and keeps other tabs annually.

So what information cost several billions of dollars for Reid to blow off in favor of his donors? I looked up employment by NAICS category, which is 512110 for “Motion Picture and Video Production”.

There were 146,539 “Paid employees for pay period including March 12 (number)” in 2009. Check it out.