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America’s creative workforce in 2011. Have things changed nine years later?

Hey everybody!

We´ve extracted these findings regarding the creative workforce in America from a study made by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2011. Our interest in exposing them now is to initiate a discussion on what´s actually happening nine years later, that is, today. We would like you to tell us in the comments section if you think that in 2020 the situation remains the same, or if it has improved (or worsen).

So, according to NSA´s findings in 2011 :

  • The creative workforce in America amounts to more than 2 million artists with tendencies to become business owners, private-sector workers or freelancers. Also, America´s artistic labor force has proven to be more knowledgeable than other working professionals in the country.
  • Artists are considered working professionals. This shows changes in old perceptions of arts, which no longer are considered just ¨a hobby¨ but can be the source of a ¨real job¨. The fact that artists contribute to developing and marketing products that Americans consume every day, made industries realized that creativity makes them more profitable.
  • The creative workforce is lead by designers, which fill 39 % of the total spectrum of jobs available for artists, mainly within the visual industry (graphic, interior, fashion, among others)
  • The next majority corresponds to artists in the performing industry, withholding 17 % of the job offer.  Professionals such as architects, art directors, animation specialists and writers in general, amounts for another 10 % of the creative workforce. The rest of the workforce, we assume, is represented by other manifestations of artistry which include painters, professionals in the culinary arts, sculptors, museum curators, tattoo artists, stylists, and other specialties.
  • The percentage of growth of the creative workforce in America (5%) was comparable to the increase of the non-artistic labor force, which grew 8% between 2000 and 2009.
  • The private sector absorbs more than half of all creatives, while 35 % of the artists in the country are self-employed.
  • One out of three creatives works for companies specialized in the following fields: architecture, design, advertising, consulting, computing and photography.
  • One out of five of all artists is working in performing arts, spectator sports or as independent artists. Also, a high share of musicians (about 53 %) fits in any of these three categories.
  • Industries such as filmmaking, publishing and all mass media and broadcasting related companies absorb 14 % of the creative workforce. We are speaking mainly of producers and directors (73%), actors (23%) and  writers and authors (20 %)
  • The creative workforce in America, as a whole, is less likely to be foreign-born compared to other professionals or workers. Architects and designers are the most likely to be from another country.
  • Artists are less diverse demographically and socioeconomically speaking and they tend to work more at home than other non-artistic workers. Marriage percentage among creatives is similar to that among the general workforce (About 53% marries)
  • A female creative earns less than her male counterpart. Women perceived $0.80 per every dollar earned by men. There´s been progress in reducing the wage gap in recent years, but more can still be done.
  • Architects are earning more than other creatives categorized as working professionals, receiving an average of  $63,000 per year. The average wage for the creative workforce is $43,000/yr with the lowest salary being $25,000 per year, for creatives classified as ¨other entertainers¨
  • Artists and creatives´ median wage is still less than the average salary of the total workforce in America which is around $54,000 per year.
  • Regarding location, there are more artists in states like New York and California. Also, Oregon and Vermont have 20 % more artists compared to the national average.
  • Other states with prominent artistic communities that outdo the national average are Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Washington, and Rhode Island.
  • In states like Tennessee, 22 % of the creative workforce is composed by musicians and San Jose, California´s metro area has the highest concentration of industrial design-related creatives which is three times higher than the national average.

So, now that you´ve read them, we ask you: Have the conditions for creatives in America improved since 2011?

Share your thoughts or other statistics you´ve found in the comments section below. Also, feel free to read  the original  NSA´s article by visiting:

Until next time,


  • : 2020-01-21T09:00
  • : 2021-01-21T09:00
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