Latest Economic Data Tracks Arts and Cultural Jobs per State

Bureau of Economic Analysis & National Endowment for the Arts Release Research
graffiti on a wall that says jobs
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Washington, DC—For the first time, state leaders will have authoritative federal data on arts and cultural employment and compensation in their state with the announcement of the latest findings from the Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account (ACPSA). A collaboration of the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the ACPSA is the first federal effort to provide in-depth analysis of the arts and cultural sector's contributions to the U.S. economy.

This latest ACPSA data is from 2014 and reveals that the arts and cultural sector contributed $729.6 billion or 4.2 percent to the U.S. economy that year. Between 1998 and 2014, the contribution of arts and culture to the nation’s gross domestic product grew by 35.1 percent. The new state data tracking arts and cultural employment and compensation provides illuminating profiles and allows for comparisons among states and regions.

“Information from the Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account has been invaluable for understanding the role of arts and culture in our economy, demonstrating that the arts are indeed part of our everyday lives,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Now with the new state data, state leaders have a powerful tool to assess and advance arts and culture for the benefit of all their residents.”

The ACPSA identifies and measures 35 industries that constitute the larger arts and cultural sector. The employment and compensation totals for these industries are represented as national and state-level numbers with the latter relative to the national rate. The relationship of the state numbers to the U.S. average is expressed in the form of percentages and location quotients (LQ), which account for the state’s overall workforce. Highlights and resources

State profiles

Overall state comparisons, 2014

  • New York, Washington, and Wyoming exceed the national index by 28 to 47 percent for arts and cultural workers on a per worker basis.
    • Wyoming has high numbers in arts and culture-related construction and government, which includes nature parks.
Industry comparisons by state, 2014
  • For performing arts employment per worker, the top five states include Hawaii, Nevada, and Rhode Island. Nevada’s compensation for these workers is four times the national index.  
  • Hawaii’s 23 museums and 17 zoos and botanical gardens contribute to the state’s high museum employment, which is four times the national rate.
  • In the motion picture and video industry, the top five states for employment per worker include Louisiana, New Mexico, and Utah, with Louisiana ranking the highest after California and New York.
  • For sound recording (as a share of state employment and compensation for all industries), Tennessee is the leader at six to seven times the national index. Indiana ranks high in musical instrument production, at 2.3 times the national rate.
  • Resources for exploring industry comparisons
State trends
  • Between 2013 and 2014, the growth in arts and cultural workers exceeded the national rate in 17 states, with the largest growth in Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Washington.
    • Utah and Washington gained arts and cultural workers in both the short term (2013-2014) and the longer term (2008-2014).
  • Since the recession (2008-2014), few states experienced gains in arts and cultural workers, however, a significant exception is North Dakota, where growth was at 11 percent, reflecting the state’s total employment increase of 26 percent.
  • Between 2013 and 2014, arts and cultural employment fell by one percent or more in only 12 states. 
    • In Montana, a decrease in arts-related retail sales and construction were the main sources of declining arts and cultural employment. In West Virginia, reduced employment in government impacted arts and cultural employment.
  • Resources for exploring state trends
ACPSA resources for researchers

To help researchers delve into the numbers, the NEA offers two arts data profiles: Arts Data Profile #12: The U.S. Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account (1998-2014) Arts Data Profile #13: State-Level Estimates of Arts and Cultural Employment (2001-2014) that features many of the above resources in addition to satellite account tables and the NEA Guide to the U.S. Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account.

About the NEA Office of Research & Analysis

As the federal agency of record on arts research, the NEA, through its Office of Research & Analysis, produces accurate, relevant, and timely analyses and reports that reveal the conditions and characteristics of the U.S. arts ecosystem and the impact of the arts on our everyday lives. The latest ACPSA findings add an important resource to the agency’s collection of publications such as, A Decade of Arts Engagement: Findings From the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, 2002–2012, funding opportunities such as  Research: Art Works, leading the Federal Agency Taskforce on Human Development, and producing other data resources.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Please visit


Victoria Hutter,, 202-682-5692