Instagram and Etsy have made everyone seem like artistic geniuses, but according to the National Endowment for the Arts, artists make up only 1.4 percent of the U.S. labor force. “Last week, we learned a lot more about the roughly 2 million artists in the workforce thanks to the NEA study, “Equal Opportunity Data Mining: National Statistics about Working Artists.” As reported bu the Washington Post, “The study, based on Census data, classifies artists by occupation, demographics and region. The NEA also provides this handy interactive map, which ranks states according to artists as a share of the state’s total labor force. Here are five of the more surprising findings.
“Congratulations, California. You’re still an artist haven, with Los Angeles and San Francisco boasting the highest percentages of artists in their workforces, according to the NEA’s city-to-city comparison. Artists make up 4.86 percent of the Los Angeles workforce and 4.3 percent of San Francisco’s. The third-ranked city? That would be Santa Fe, New Mexico, with artists making up 4 percent of all workers.
“New York City is home to more artists than any other U.S. city, with 140,915 people engaged in artistic professions, but with a workforce of 4.1 million people, that’s only 3.4 percent of its total workforce. In fact, New York City has only a slightly higher percentage of working artists per capita than Washington, D.C., where artists make up 3.1 percent of the workforce. (This may seem unlikely, considering that the New York data include Brooklyn. But remember that the New York metro area is enormous. And to count, artists had to report income or be actively pursuing work as a primary profession, which means thousands of aspiring poets in Williamsburg were probably excluded.)
“The NEA divided artists into seven categories of disciplines. Design is the most common artistic profession in the United States, with a whopping 39 percent of artists in the workforce classifying themselves as designers. Photography and directing/producing are the least popular artistic professions, with both categories claiming only 7 percent of total artists in the workforce.”