There are 2.1 million “artists” in the United States, according to the National Endowment for the Arts. The national arts organization has just released a study that examines the demographics of the country’s artists. I’ve included the word artist in quotation marks because their definition includes many shades of artistry to reach that number. I don’t think they were wrong to be so inclusive but I do think most people don’t normally associate floral designers, for instance, under the banner of “artist.”
Some notable facts:
- There are 2.1 million artists in the United States. They make up 1.4% of the total workforce, and 6.9% of the professional workforce (artists are classified as “professional workers”).
- Largest categories: designers (graphic, commercial, and industrial designers, fashion designers, floral designers, interior designers, merchandise displayers, and set and exhibit designers) are 39% and performing artists are 17%.
- Fine artists, art directors, and animators make up 10% of all artists.
- Writers/authors and architects each compose 9-10& of all artists.
- More than half of artists (54%) work in the private, for-profit sector; 35 percent are self-employed.
- Women artists earn $0.81 cents for every dollar earned by men artists. This gap is similar to that in the overall labor force (where women earn $0.80 cents for every dollar earned by men).
- Artists’ median wages and salaries ($43,000 in 2009) are higher than the median for the whole labor force ($39,000).
- Architects make the highest median wage ($63,000), while workers who are classified as “other entertainers” had the lowest ($25,000).
And here are some notable points I gleamed from the report about the demographics of US artists:
- Artists are less socioeconomically and demographically diverse than the total U.S. workforce, yet diversity levels vary across individual artist occupations.
- Only 13% of writers and authors are non-white and/or Hispanic, compared with 32% of the total workforce
- Yet 27% of actors are non-white and/or Hispanic — roughly the same proportion of musicians, announcers, and other entertainers.
- 41% of all dancers and choreographers are non-white and/or Hispanic — nine points higher than the corresponding share of the U.S. workforce.
- While artists as a whole are less likely to be foreign-born than other US workers, some of the highest-paid artist occupations have the highest rates of foreign-born workers. Architects and designers are the most likely to be foreign-born (14–16%, roughly the same as the US workforce).
- New York (2.3% of the workforce) and California (2% of the workforce) have the highest numbers of artists in the US.
- Oregon and Vermont have 20% greater-than-average numbers of artists, with writers and authors especially prominent.
- The greater Pittsburgh area has twice the concentration of museum workers nationwide.
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