NEA Artists in the Workforce study

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has released Artists in the Workforce: 1990-2005 (.pdf; 3.8Mb), a study of artists -- including those in the design professions -- demographic and employment patterns. "Artists now play a huge but mostly unrecognized role in the new American economy of the 21st century," NEA chair, Dana Giola, said in a media release. "This report shows how important American artists are to both our nation's cultural vitality and economic prosperity of our communities.

The study's findings revealed:

  • Between 1970-90, the number of artists more than doubled. Between 1990-2005, the growth rate of artists slowed to 16 percent, about the same as the country's overall labor force.
  • Artists are 3.5 times more likely to be self-employed and twice as likely to have a college degree than the country's overall work force.