Layoffs Mount, but Media Hardly Worst Off

NEW YORK It may be little consolation, especially considering that Sony Pictures is reportedly preparing to cut 300 jobs, but layoffs in the media business don’t come close to the carnage in some other sectors.

In the first two months of this year, 7,453 jobs were lost at media companies. Even when combining that with the 2,183 jobs that were cut from entertainment/leisure, a sector that includes movie theaters and theme parks, it’s relatively mild.

For example, the hardest hit industry is retail, which slashed 72,727 jobs in January and February.

The data is based on disclosed job cuts and comes from a Challenger, Gray & Christmas report released Wednesday.

The industry with the second-most job losses was automotive at 70,058, followed by industrial goods with 51,545.

Challenger, which is an executive outplacement firm, breaks its data down into 25 industries. There are 14 industries that suffered more layoffs than media and 18 more than entertainment/leisure.

In all of 2008, the media sector suffered 28,083 layoffs. In the first two months last year, 5,544 jobs were lost, 34 percent less than in the first two months this year.

As for Sony, the studio had no comment on impending layoffs, though the cuts are reportedly due to poor DVD sales and are unrelated to the 8,000 jobs recently cut from Sony’s electronics unit.

Sony’s studio employees aren’t the only ones feeling the sting from a broken U.S. economy. Universal, Paramount and Warner Bros. have each announced layoffs.

And the jobs lost at WB came despite the copamny collecting $1.79 billion in grosses at the domestic box office in 2008, a one-year record for any movie studio.

The ad agency business has been wracked by layoffs since last fall as clients cut budgets and the economy continues to slump.

Fox is the most notable film studio to have not announced mass layoffs during this recession.