Thursday, June 19, 2008

Artists in the Workforce 1990 - 2005

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has just released its publication Artists in the Workforce 1990 - 2005, a look at the demographic and employment patterns of artists nationwide in the 21st century. The data shows that artists are one of the largest worker classes, numbering over 2,000,000 and representing 1.4% of the U. S. work force.

Dana Gioia (NEA Chairman) states: "America tends to see its artists as visionaries, rebels, outsiders, and eccentrics. These longstanding stereotypes...misrepresent American artists and even contribute to their marginalization in society."

Key findings noted in the Executive Summary [emphasis added]:

  1. Nearly two million Americans are artists.
  2. The number of artists has kept pace with the growth in the overall labor force.
  3. Artists remain highly concentrated in urban areas.
  4. The artist population, like the labor force, is becoming more diverse.
  5. Artists are generally more educated than the workforce as a whole.
  6. Artists are 3.5 times more likely than other workers to be self-employed.
  7. Fewer artists have full-year, full-time jobs than other workers.
  8. Artists generally earn less than workers with similar levels of education.
  9. Women remain underrepresented in several artist occupations.
  10. The West and South have seen the greatest growth in artists by state.
Unfortunately, but sadly not surprisingly, the report also shows that women artists earn far less than their male counterparts - the 2003-2005 median income for male artists was $42,000; the 2003-2005 median income for women artists was $27,300, or 35% less(sigh).

NEA Summary

New York Times article about the report:

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