Fewer People Employed in Michigan Movie Industry Than Before Film Tax Credits Began, According to Center Analyst

Pardon me.. do you have a second?  I just wanted to say…

I told you so.

Or Better yet.. I TOLD YOU SO!

OK.. not exactly it, but a good representation of prognostication with regard to this issue.  But this time with a little twist of lemony puckering.

From the Mac Center:

“MIDLAND — There has been a nearly 10 percent drop in movie industry employment in the state over the past two years since the Michigan film incentive went into effect and doled out  $117 million, according to Mackinac Center Fiscal Policy Analyst James Hohman.

“Film incentive supporters often point to particular jobs generated by the program’s subsidies as evidence of its success,” Hohman said. “But the reality is that the state is redistributing millions of taxpayers’ dollars to one industry that happens to be employing fewer people.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of September 2009 (the most recent month available)*, there were 5,290 people in Michigan employed under the category of “motion picture and sound recording industries.” In April 2008, when legislation was signed creating the film subsidy program, that same classification reported 5,867 jobs, or 9.8 percent more.

“While the film incentive program has succeeded at making this very small piece of the state’s economy more visible, the actual data shows that it has failed to increase the overall number of film jobs in the state, let alone provide a source of growth for any other industry,” Hohman said.

The film subsidy is estimated to cost $155 million in fiscal 2011, Hohman noted, which is equal to 7 percent of what the Michigan Business Tax extracts from other state businesses.”

And the Oscar for worst story line goes to….

3 comments for “Fewer People Employed in Michigan Movie Industry Than Before Film Tax Credits Began, According to Center Analyst

  1. April 20, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    What many people don’t seem to realize is that FTE jobs are diminishing in general. As the Center full well knows, the majority of jobs added as a result of the film incentives are considered seasonal. That is one works from project to project…it IS hard to count, but a prestigious ‘think tank’ like the center should be able to suss that out if they found it in their interest (which it should be!!) One crew member, as an example worked the entire year with weeks off on feature films. That’s nearly 8 films. Do the math. Nearly 100 crew members on each film. Nearly 70 MI vendors ON EACH FILM. That allows businesses that were in trouble to KEEP people on the payroll. Hotels, gas stations, coffee shops, businesses that are not associated with film but benefit from them. That’s not to mention the jobs created and maintained by educational resources to support and grow the industry. So when the Center puts out this load of false self serving information – they do a disservice to the state of Michigan.

    M Adler

  2. April 20, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    It’s clear to me that Mr. Homan will publish anything that backs up his lopsided views of the film incentives.

    How about this one: the increase of motion picture related jobs has offset the mass exodus of advertising production jobs that California post houses and internet advertising giants like Google has been draining from us. Case in point: I know four sound recording artist at local post houses who have been laid off due to the lack advertising spots being created by local firms like BBDO.

    Also, does the Bureau count sessional employment in this stat?

  3. April 20, 2010 at 7:25 pm


    Excuse me, M, but “self-serving” applies to the rent-seeking producers who are raking in millions in subsidy checks from Michigan taxpayers, and the bureaucrats who are being richly compensated and having a fine old time handing them out, and who have all turned into full time lobbyists who go bonkers anytime anyone suggests ending their gravy train. The Mackinac Center doesn’t get a dime from anyone for OPPOSING these handouts as a matter of principle.

    If anyone’s motives are open to question it’s those defending the give-aways.

    Jack McHugh

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