The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released a new study yesterday that shows the unemployment rate among the nation's working artists, including writers, hit 6 percent in the final quarter of 2008. Artists in a Year of Recession: Impact on Jobs, which examines employment patterns in the fourth quarters of 2007 and 2008, reveals that a total of 129,000 artists were unemployed at the end of last year, an increase of 50,000 (63 percent) from a year earlier. The unemployment rate for writers and authors alone is slightly higher than artists in general: 6.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. The group with the highest unemployment rates are performing artists, at 8.4 percent.
The study compares unemployment rates among artists to U.S. workers as a whole and finds that artists have lost jobs at a faster rate: Between the fourth quarters of 2007 and 2008, the unemployment rate for artists rose 2.4 percentage points, while the rate for workers as a whole rose one point.
The study also predicts that the job market for artists is unlikely to improve until long after the U.S. economy starts to recover.
"We conducted the research to quantify what we hear in the field and read in the news every day, that art workers—alongside all workers—are suffering," said the NEA's director of research and analysis Sunil Iyengar in a press release. "Unfortunately, the data reveal that artist unemployment is increasing at more rapid rates than for the total workforce, and could have more of an affect over time."
The full study can be found on the NEA Web site.