Keeping My Day Job: Identifying U.S. Workers Who Have Dual Careers as Artists (2013)

Posted March 2014

Title of Dataset

Current Population Survey (CPS), public file, redesigned in 1994


Monthly sample of 60,000 households

Target Population

U.S. civilians, non-institutionalized, 16 years and over

Geographic Coverage

The CPS design considers both national and state reliability. However, estimates of small populations, including the number of secondary artists, may be unreliable at sub-national levels.


Conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Research Topic

Artists in the workforce; multiple jobholding patterns

Notable Features

  • Detailed occupation of primary and secondary job-holders
  • Demographic and socioeconomic variables such as age, education, and gender
  • Labor status, hours worked, and broad industry affiliation
  • As a household survey, the CPS includes self-employed workers

In addition to providing data on the U.S. labor force in general, the CPS is used to collect data on a variety of supplemental subjects, including arts participation; volunteering; computer and Internet use; and the Annual Social and Economic Supplement, which provides data on health-care insurance coverage, poverty, and participation in non-cash benefits programs, among other factors.

National Overview

Most analyses of artist employment refer to workers in primary artist occupations. (The primary job is defined as one at which the greatest number of hours were worked.) In 2013, 2.1 million workers were employed as artists in their primary occupation.

In that same year, however, an additional 271,000 workers held second jobs in artist occupations.  Musicians account for the largest number of secondary artist employment—84,000 in 2013; and most people who hold secondary artist jobs work as professionals in their primary occupation.

Why is the CPS Conducted?

The CPS began in the 1940s as a means of providing reliable statistics on the U.S. labor force. The survey's origins lie in the Works Project Administration (WPA), which was attempting to measure unemployment during the 1930s Great Depression.

Today the CPS is a monthly survey of 60,000 households, and it serves as the primary source of labor force statistics for the U.S. population, including high-profile statistics such as the unemployment rate.

The CPS began capturing multiple jobholding on a regular basis in 1994.