A couple of clicks down, we were asked about how many older animation artists were working. As promised, we've come up with some numbers.
Over the last two years, 3,722 persons have worked under our jurisdiction, of which 2,780 are currently employed (74.8%), and 942 are currently unemployed (25.2%).
Of the total group, 372 are age 55 or older (10.0% of the total). Of that group, 254 (68.2%) are currently working and 118 (31.7%) are not working.
Of the total group, 2,774 are younger than age 55 (74.5% of the total). Of that group, 2,134 (76.9%) are working and 640 (23.1%) are not working.
There are two factors to bear in mind when considering the above statistics:
Once a month for each coverage period, the Health Plan gives us reports on who is acquiring and losing health benefits. However, we do not get tallies of the total numbers of people covered, or any breakdown of that number by age.
We do not have birthdates on some of our members, which is why some of the numbers don't add up.
Having said all that, I can tell you the older groups that are unemployed or under-employed based on firsthand observation:
* Traditional animators. Many couldn't make the jump to c.g. animation. The successfully transitioned totaled far less than half of the traditional animators working in the 1990s.
* Cleanup artists. There are simply too few jobs to support a craft that used to employ hundreds. And the few jobs there are now have mainly gotten sub-contracted out of L.A. county.
* Timing directors in television animation. As animatics have become more ubiquitous, timing director jobs have declined. Some studios rely on animatics (digital story reels) to provide timing for overseas studios. (And there are a lot of older timing directors. As one recently told me: "If the jobs all dry up, thank God I can retire with the Guild pension ...")
The only constant in the business of cartoons is change, and some folks get caught in the cross-currents. Add to that the reality of your network of friends, allies and references diving off the boat into the warm tropical seas of retirement, and the late fifties can get choppy, employment-wise.