The year just behind us was something of a run-away train: The first quarter of '13 saw DreamWorks Animation layoff 300+ employees, then hiring 80 new staffers for their television toward the end of the year. ...
We saw a similar pattern at the Disney family of studios (Walt Disney Animation Studios; Disney Toon Studios; Disney Television Animation): Diz Co.'s feature division hired a lot of separated DreamWorks Animation employees in early Spring as the push to finish Frozen reached a crescendo (and then came layoffs in early Fall as the picture wrapped). Disney Toon laid off employees at the end of the year as the Tinkerbell series of features abruptly ended, while throughout the year Disney TVA launched new series and hired more staff.
Television animation in general was robust throughout the year. Fox Animation continued with its Macfarlane series American Dad and Family Guy; Over at Film Roman, The Simpsons was picked up for another year and Spider Man was an ongoing project, while Bento Box continued to be one of Fox's studios of choice, producing Bob's Burgers and Murder Police.
Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network continued to create new and continuing series, and mid-year The Animation Guild negotiated a CG contract with Nick to cover its CG employees. Negotiations were not easy or quick, but a large negotiating committee of focused Nick employees got the job done.
Warner Bros. Animation saw its series orders shrink even as it continued to produce a number of Direct-To-Video features. And smaller studios like Wild Canary, Robin Red Breast (Titmouse), and Starburns Industries became sub-contractors for cartoon shows the conglomerates chose not to create in their wholly-owned studios.
What often escapes notice is that overall guild employment as been strong for some time:
TAG EMPLOYMENT -- 2008-2013
4th quarter 2008 -- 2,376
4th quarter 2009 -- 2,545
4th quarter 2010 -- 2,698
4th quarter 2011 -- 2,622
4th quarter 2012 -- 2,741
4th quarter 2013 -- 2,924
So as of today, membership rolls stand at an all-time high for the guild. We have come a very long way from the late 1980s, when active members totaled 700. But then, animation is no longer the brackish backwater it was in 1987 and 1988, when the only companies making animated features were Disney and Don Bluth Productions, and television animation consisted of inexpensive syndicated series and Saturday morning cartoons on network television.