NEA Arts Magazine

New NEA Study Released

On June 12, the NEA released Artists in the Workforce: 1990–2005, the first nationwide look at artists’ demographic and employment patterns in the 21st century.

According to NEA Director of Research and Analysis Sunil Iyengar, “This report brings cohesion to a large, diverse, and important constituency served by the NEA. It recognizes artists as a distinct and dynamic component of the total labor force.”

The report reveals that not only do artists represent 1.4 percent of the U.S. labor force, they are one of the largest classes of workers in the nation (1.9 million), only slightly smaller than the U.S. military’s active-duty and reserve personnel (2.2 million). Other key findings include the following: between 1970 and 1990, the number of artists more than doubled, from 737,000 to 1.7 million; opportunities for artistic employment are greater in metropolitan areas, with half of all artists living in 30 metropolitan areas; and, while artists are twice as likely to have a college degree as other U.S. workers, they generally earn less than workers with similar education levels.

To order or download a copy of Artists in the Workforce: 1990–2005, please go to