NEA: Photographers Among Artist Jobs Worst Affected by Recessionary Unemployment

Posted on 3/5/2009 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Artists in a Year of Recession: Impact on Jobs in 2008, a research study conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based National Endowment for the Arts, says that recession is affecting America’s artists—and photographers in particular—more significantly than most other professionals. Artists are unemployed at twice the rate of all professional workers and are becoming increasingly discouraged with future job prospects.

The employment situation has worsened for most types of artist occupations, with photographers being the fourth worst-affected category. Artist jobs with higher unemployment rates are performing artists (8.4%); fine artists, art directors, and animators (7.1%); writers and authors (6.6%); and photographers (6%).

Established in 1965, NEA is a federal government agency dedicated to supporting the arts and arts education as the nation’s largest annual arts funder. NEA was an early and critical supporter of such preeminent institutions as The Sundance Film Festival and PBS’s Great Performances series.

Artists in a Year of Recession uses published and unpublished U.S. Department of Labor data to measure unemployment among workers who self-reported an artist job as occupying their greatest number of working hours per week. Such jobs range from architects, poets, film actors and screenwriters to graphic and interior designers, musicians and photographers.

Such artists’ unemployment rate grew to 6% in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared with 3% for all professional workers, a category in which artists are grouped because of their high levels of education. A total of 129,000 artists were unemployed during that quarter, which equals a 63% increase from 2007.

In addition, artist unemployment rates are rising more rapidly than for U.S. workers as a whole. The unemployment rate for artists climbed 2.4 percentage points within a year, compared to a one-point increase for professional workers and slightly less than a two-point increase for the entire U.S. workforce.

NEA said that artist unemployment rates would be even higher if artists were not leaving the workforce in large numbers. While the total number of U.S. workers grew by 800,000 during the last year, the number of working artists shrank by 74,000. The NEA attributes this in part to artists’ discouragement over job prospects.

Unemployment is a lagging economic indicator. During the last recession of 2001, artist unemployment did not peak until a full two years after economic recovery began nationwide. Thus, artist unemployment numbers will probably continue climbing this year, and the artist job market is unlikely to improve until well after the U.S. economy begins to recover.

Copyright © 2009 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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