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Artists' Employment Status


According to the 2001 Current Population Survey, the unemployment rate for artists in 2001 was 4.0%.

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Unemployment Rate for Artists in General

The unemployment rate for artists is derived from two pieces of information: the number of unemployed artists divided by the total number of people whose current, or most recent, primary occupation (that is, the job at which they worked the most hours) was in the arts.

By this definition of unemployment rate, the unemployment rate for artists in 2001 was 4.0% (88,000 divided by 2,196,000). This figure is high in comparison to the 2001 unemployment rate for professionals in general (2.2%), but relatively in line with the overall unemployment rate of 4.4% among all civilian workers.

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Unemployment Rates for Specific Artists Occupations

Unemployment levels were generally highest among the "traditional" visual and performing arts occupations, led by actors and directors at 9.9%, followed by dancers at 6.3%, painters, sculptors and craft artists at 4.6%, and musicians and composers at 3.7%. Unemployment levels were also high among artists not elsewhere classified (5.4%), and announcers (4.5%). Architects and teachers of art, drama and music enjoyed the lowest unemployment levels in 2001, at 1.7% and 1.4% respectively.

Unemployment Levels Across Artist Occupation Categories
  Employed Unemployed UE Rate
Actors and directors 131,000 14,000 9.9%
Announcers 49,000 2,000 4.5%
Architects 241,000 4,000 1.7%
Authors 122,000 6,000 4.6%
Dancers 26,000 2,000 6.3%
Designers 788,000 26,000 3.2%
Musicians and composers 180,000 7,000 3.7%
Painters, sculptors and craft artists 243,000 12,000 4.6%
Photographers 154,000 5,000 2.9%
Teachers of art, drama and music 45,000 1,000 1.4%
Other artists (not elsewhere classified) 156,000 9,000 5.4%
All Artists 2,108,000 88,000 4.0%

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Secondary Employment of Artists

While 2,108,000 people held primary jobs as artists in 2001, an additional 315,000 held secondary jobs as artists while working at primary jobs in other occupations. In other words, 87% of all working artists held primary jobs as artists while 13% worked as artists only in secondary jobs.

The rate of secondary employment as an artist was highest among announcers and musicians and composers. Just 64.5% of all working announcers held primary jobs as announcers in 2001, while 35.5% worked as announcers in secondary jobs only. Likewise, just two-thirds (67.7%) of working musicians and composers held primary jobs as musicians and composers, while one-third (32.3%) worked as musicians or composers in secondary jobs only.

The rate of secondary employment as an artist was lowest among architects and designers, at 2.7% and 6.3% respectively.

Secondary employment of artists
  Primary Employment Secondary Employment Secondary Job %
Actors and directors 131,000 18,000 12.1%
Announcers 49,000 27,000 35.5%
Architects 214,000 6,000 2.7%
Authors 122,000 20,000 14.1%
Dancers 26,000 5,000 16.1%
Designers 788,000 53,000 6.3%
Musicians and composers 180,000 86,000 32.3%
Painters, sculptors and craft artists 243,000 33,000 12.0%
Photographers 154,000 23,000 13.0%
Teachers of art, drama and music 45,000 14,000 23.7%
Other artists (not elsewhere classified) 156,000 30,000 16.1%
All Artists 2,108,000 315,000 13.0%

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