Artists in the Workforce

1990 - 2005

Published in: GIA Reader, Vol 20, No 1 (Spring 2009)

National Endowment for the Arts

2008, 150 pages. National Endowment for the Arts, 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., 20506, 202-682-5400,

This report uses United States census occupation data to analyze artists' demographic and employment patterns. From 1990-2005, the number of artists grew at about the same pace as the U.S. labor force, keeping the proportion of artists at 1.4 percent of the labor force. This development follows two decades of dramatic growth—the number of artists more than doubled between 1970 and 1990, growing from less than 1 percent of the labor force to 1.4 percent. The U.S. labor force increased by 55 percent in the 1970s and 1980s, partly because women entered the labor force in larger numbers than in preceding decades, and partly because the baby boom generation was entering the workforce during those years.

The report begins with a discussion of key findings, followed by 60 supporting tables derived from the 1990 and 2000 censuses and the 2003-2005 American Community Survey. The tables contain detailed information about artists that is not readily available in print or on the Internet. The tables, which appear in the second part of the report, are preceded by a “Guide to Tables and Terms” with definitions of the data. Also included are three appendices that describe the census-defined artist occupations, the data sources, the accuracy of the estimates, and the new American Community Survey.