For some 254,000 striking L.A. screenwriters, picking up a daily grande nonfat vanilla latte on the way to the picket line may be starting to feel really expensive. That’s bad news for the baristas on the other side of the coffee bar. “Before the strike even started, there were stories out of the Studio City to Burbank corridor that restaurants and coffeehouses were seeing a definite slowdown in business,” says Jack Kyser, a chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation. “And I think service providers like limo services, hotels, fancy restaurants on the Westside [are] probably getting a little bit nervous.”
When you start adding up the numbers—39,000 in the hotel industry, 290,000 in the real estate biz—it becomes clear that this strike isn’t just about our favorite shows. “We’ve estimated the industry contributes about $80 million a day to the Los Angeles economy,” Kyser says. “All that money won’t go away, but small businesses are afraid. They’re uncertain as to how low this thing is going to last, [and] they’re starting to downsize so they can survive.”
If the strike doesn’t get settled soon, L.A. won’t be the only area to feel the pinch. “This is a nationwide strike,” Kyser says. “All of the states that have been trying to attract [film & TV] production, they will feel it: New York, but also New Mexico, Louisiana…” California may be the heart of the industry, but the state employs less than half of the nation’s entertainment biz. And that means many more people could be kicking their caffeine habit before long.