(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Artists in the work force : employment and earnings, 1970 to 1990"

R T I S T S 

in the Work Force: 




Employment and Earnings, 
1970-1990 



Research Report #37 

Neil O. Alper and Gregory H. Wassail 
Joan Jeffri and Robert Greenblatt 
Ann O. Kay and Stephyn G. W. Butcher 
Harry Hillman Chartrand 



*» 




NATIONAL 
ENDOWMENT 
FOR THE ARTS 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

Boston Library Consortium Member Libraries 



http://archive.org/details/artistsinworkforOOalpe 



Artists in the Work Force: 

Employment and Earnings, 
1970 to 1990 



Artists in the Work Force: 

Employment and Earnings, 
1970 to 1990 



Neil O. Alper and Gregory H. Wassail 

Joan Jeffri and Robert Greenblatt 

Ann O. Kay and Stephyn G. W. Butcher 

Harry Hillman Chartrand 



Research Division Report #37 



National Endowment for the Arts 

Seven Locks Press 

Santa Ana, California 



Artists in the Work Force: Employment and Earnings, 1970 to 1990 is Report #37 in 
a series on matters of interest to the arts community commissioned by the Research 
Division of the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Cover photos: (L to R) Novelist Alice Walker (photo by Jean Weisinger); participants 
in the Mayors' Institute on City Design; Victoria Finlayson and Alan Good of the 
Merce Cunningham Dance Company (photo by Michael O'Neill); Glassblowing at 
the Rhode Island School of Design (photo by David O'Connor). 



First Printed 1996 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

Artists in the work force: employment and earnings, 1970 to 1990/ 

Neil O. Alper...[et al.]. 
p. cm. — (Research Division report: #37) 

ISBN 0-929766-48-6 
1. Artists — Employment — United States. 2. Artists — Salaries, etc., — United 

States. I. Alper, Neil, 1949- . II. Series: Research Division report (National 

Endowment for the Arts. Research Division); 37. 

NX504.A855. 1996 

331.12'517'00973— dc20 



Manufactured in the United States of America 

Seven Locks Press 
Santa Ana, California 
1-800-354-5348 



Table of Contents 

Executive Summary 

Authors 1 

Artists Who Work with Their Hands 3 

Performing Artists 4 

Architecture and Design Arts Occupations 6 

Introduction 8 

I. The Write Stuff: Employment and 

Earnings of Authors, 1 970-1 990 13 

Overview 13 

Profile of American Authors 14 

Evidence on Author's Multiple Job Holding 1 6 

Evidence on Authors from Non-Census Sources 17 

Authors in the U.S. Census 18 
Census Data Used to Analyze Authors' 

Work Experiences 19 
Issues in Using Census Data to Analyze 

Authors' Labor Force 19 

Whom Does the Census Define as an Author? 20 
Growth in the Author Profession and 

Where Writers Work 22 

For Whom Authors Work: Distribution by Industry 24 

Demographic Characteristics of Authors 25 

Authors in the Labor Market 28 

Earnings of Authors 32 

Authors in the U.S. and Elsewhere 40 

Current Population Survey 41 

Non-Census Surveys 43 

Alper- Wassail Survey 44 

Columbia University's RCAC Survey 48 

Special Artist Surveys 49 

Administrative Records 52 

Writers in Other Countries 55 

Conclusion 56 

About the Authors 58 



vi I Artists in the Workforce 

II. Artists Who Work with Their Hands 

A Trend Report, 1 970 to 1 990 59 

Overview 59 

Data from the United States Census 60 

Discrete Surveys 61 

Challenges 63 

Other United States Data 65 

United States Census Data, 1970-1990 65 

Geographic Trends 66 

Age 68 

Education 68 

Employment and Earnings 69 

Discrete Surveys 72 

The Artist's Work-Related, Human and Social Services 72 

Questionnaire (1986) 

Information on Artists Survey (1988) 73 

Information on Artists: Boston and New York 78 

Artists Training and Career Project (ATC) 1990-91 79 

Artists and Jobs Questionnaire 1980 81 

Discrepancies 82 

Conclusion 83 

About the Authors 84 

III. Employment and Earnings of Performing 

Artists, 1970 to 1990 85 

Overview 85 

Data Sources and Conceptual Issues 86 

Performing Artist Surveys 87 

Union Pension Records 87 

Employment and Earnings Analysis 88 

Labor Force Status 88 

Class of Worker 92 

Industry of Employment 93 

Weeks of Work and Usual Weekly Hours 94 

Earnings 96 

Geographic Distribution 106 

Conclusion 110 

About the Authors 111 



Table of Contents I vii 

IV. Architecture and Design Arts Occupations, 

1970 to 1990 112 

Overview 112 

Evidence 112 

Difficulties 113 

Trends 113 

Comparative Occupational Groups 114 

Architects 114 

Definitions 114 

Landscape Architects 115 

Membership 116 

Age 116 

Ethnicity and Race 117 

Residence 119 

Gender 120 

Attainment 121 

Employment 1 23 

Income 125 

Designers 127 

Membership 128 

Age 129 

Ethnicity and Race 130 

Residence 130 

Gender 132 

Education 132 

Employment 135 

Income 138 

Conclusion 138 

Professionalization and Competition 139 

Design Deficit 140 

Design Rights 140 

Aesthetic Utopians 14 1 

Forecasts 1 4 1 

About the Author 142 

References 142 



Executive Summary 



The focus of this report commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts 
is on four distinct groups of artists: authors, architects and designers, performing 
artists and artists who work with their hands. The report attempts to answer certain 
basic questions about where artists live and work and what they earn. Do they 
support their art or does it support them? How well did the growth and changes in 
art occupations over the two decades covered by the report keep pace with those of 
professionals in other fields with comparable education and training? The report also 
examines trends regarding the artists' economic conditions, age, gender, race, 
ethnicity, education, area of residence, employment sector, earnings and multiple job 
holdings. An underlying assumption throughout the report is that the intrinsic 
rewards for artists in doing the work they most want to do cannot be quantified. 

The authors of the four sections of the report represent different disciplines in 
art, education, and economics, but they share a general concern for the art world and 
its career participants. They worked independently, focusing on their specialized 
fields and studying existing data bases, including those of the U. S. Census, various 
surveys of artists and industry records. Although they were often researching similar 
information on artist occupations, the authors approached their studies from 
different perspectives, using various analytical techniques. The result of their efforts 
is a comprehensive, revealing look at issues affecting the entire set of artist 
occupations covered by the Census from 1970 to 1990. 

The authors generally agree on the advantages and limitations of using data from 
the broad-based Census and the more limited, but closely targeted, surveys aimed at 
specific artist occupations. They also concur that continuing research will lead to a 
better understanding of the opportunities and challenges today's artists experience. 

Because these authors can best highlight the findings of their individual studies, 
their summaries of these findings appear here. It is hoped that by combining these 
findings in one area, both the similarities and differences of employment experiences 
in the four art fields will be apparent. 

Employment and Earnings of Authors 

Neil O. Alper and Gregory H. Wassail researched and wrote the section of this 
report on authors. They found that writing occupations have grown rapidly the last 
two decades, but that writers still constitute a very small fraction of the nation's labor 
force — in 1990 American authors numbered about 107,000 or just nine in 10,000 
members of the labor force. Alper and Wassail used the broadest definition of 
authors: all persons who indicated occupational membership, regardless of being in 
the labor force at Census time. The researchers compared the employment and 
earnings of authors to all artists, editors and reporters, technical writers, and all 
professional and technical workers other than artists. 

Briefly, here are some of their major findings from U.S. Census data: 



Artists in the Work Force 



• Education. Authors were found to be well educated, averaging 15.8 years of 
education in 1990, more than other artists and professional/technical workers. 

• Age. Authors averaged 44 years of age, which was four to five years older than 
reference groups used (other professional workers and all artists). 

• Residence. California and New York are home to more authors than other states, 
with the Los Angeles and New York City metropolitan areas claiming the highest 
percentages of writers in their labor forces. 

• Gender and ethnicity. Half of all authors were men in 1990 and 95 percent were 
white. Over the 1970-1990 period the author profession had a lower percentage 
of minorities than artists or other professional/technical workers. It had a higher 
percentage of women than did the artist profession, but a lower percentage than 
other professional/technical occupations. 

• Unemployment. In 1990 only 40 percent of authors worked full time year- 
round, compared to 46 percent of artists and 56 percent of other professional 
and technical workers who worked full-time. 

• Employment sector. Compared to the average artist and professional or 
technical workers, authors were far more likely to be self-employed and less likely 
to work for private sector employers. 

• Earnings. In 1989 authors' total earnings averaged $23,335, less than other 
professional workers, editors and reporters and technical writers, but more than 
other artists. Authors' total personal income was $30,089 and their average total 
household income, $62,083 (leading all reference groups in household income). 
Between 1969 and 1989, the earnings of authors grew by 175 percent, which 
lagged behind the reference groups and behind inflation. From 1969 through 
1989, a higher percentage of authors had zero or negative earnings, and a higher 
percentage earned over $90,000 than any of the reference groups. 

In 1989 women authors earned only 52 percent of male writers' earnings. 

Black authors earned 91 percent of white; Hispanics earned 87 percent. 

Several studies of artists from 1979 to 1989 found that 70 to 90 percent of 
authors worked at other jobs during the year, often simultaneously with their writing. 
The majority of second jobs for authors were professional in their nature. Their 
writing-related jobs were primarily teaching. Without income from their second or 
multiple jobs, a majority of authors would be classified as poor. 

Non-Census sources, such as artist surveys and union records, confirm many of 
the Census findings, including the facts that authors are primarily white with an 
average age around 40 and are well-educated compared to the general population. As 
to gender, some of the studies showed an even distribution of males and females, 
some 60 percent female, and union records accounted for only 22 percent female. 

Regarding income, non-Census surveys showed female authors consistently 
earned less than males, with different studies showing a range from about 40 percent 
of male earnings to about 75 percent by 1991. The income of other family members 
was found to be important in aiding writers to work at their craft and to stay well 
above poverty thresholds. 

The Columbia Authors' Guild study and the Writers' Guild studies found 
earnings to vary greatly related to the type of writing and the employer. Generally, 



Executive Summary 



poets earned the least from their craft, authors of academically oriented non-fiction 
somewhat more, writers of children's books and general adult fiction were in the 
middle, and writers of "genre" fiction earned the most. Writers in television earned 
about 3 percent more than film writers in 1991. Those who worked for major TV or 
film production companies earned more than those working for smaller production 
companies, with those working for the major film production companies in 1991 
having median earnings 115 percent higher than writers working for independent 
producers. 

Artists Who Work with Their Hands 

Joan Jeffri and Robert Greenblatt wrote the section of this report which examines 
trends in the visual arts occupations of painters, sculptors, craft artists and artist 
printmakers. Major areas they examined, using Census data and artist population 
surveys, are geographic distribution, age, education, employment and earnings. 
Highlights of their findings appear here. 

Between 1970 and 1990 the total artist population more than doubled, from 
720,000 to 1,671,000. By 1990, painters and craft artists totaled 191,160, or 13 
percent of all artists, the second largest of all artist occupations. Female painters/craft 
artists by 1990 numbered 107,920, or 56 percent. For male painters/craft artists, the 
rate of growth declined from 64 percent in 1970 to 44 percent in 1990. 

While about three-fourths of these artists are urban residents, these percentages 
have declined from 1980. Male painters and craft artists had their highest 
proportions in the West in 1990, while their female counterparts moved South and 
substantially decreased in the Northwest. 

Median ages for male painters/craftspeople were higher at 40 than for all male 
artists at 37 and higher than the general labor force. Female median ages of 39 years 
were higher than for all female artists at 37, but similar to the general labor force. 
Both male and female painters/craftspeople had median ages of 41 in a Research 
Center for Arts and Culture study done at the time. 

The area of education seems to prove the most difficult when comparing Census 
figures to discrete survey figures. According to the Census, education for both male 
and female painters and craft artists is just holding steady at the 4-plus years of 
college level and above, and both years of graduate education and degrees are suspect 
due to changes in the coding procedures of the Census. According to the findings of 
the discrete surveys used here, over 40 percent of the painters/craft artists have 
graduate degrees. 

Self-employment rose for both male and female painters and craft artists from 32 
percent of males and 34 percent of females in 1970 to 47 percent of males and 49 
percent of females in 1990. For females, as self-employment increased, 
unemployment declined, but the definition of self-employment for visual artists is a 
highly complex one. 

Females continued to earn less than males in all sectors between 1970 and 1990, 
even though between 1980 and 1990, the female median income for professionals 
more than doubled to $23,113, and the median income for female painters/craft 



Artists in the Work Force 



artists more than tripled to $22,041. For female professionals who worked 50 to 52 
weeks, median income was $29,181. The median income for full-time female 
painters/craft artists of $18,762 was lower than that of their artist counterparts, 
whose median income was $20,825 in 1990. 

In 1990 authors Jeffri and Greenblatt found that Census data showed a larger 
proportion of women as painters, sculptors, craft artists and artist printmakers, with 
fewer living in urban areas. They had a higher median income than all artists and the 
general labor force, but were closer in median age to professionals. For both males 
and females, the level of education, according to the Census, seemed to be just 
holding steady or rising slightly at the higher levels. More of these artists were self- 
employed, with percentages much higher than other kinds of artists. The median 
income for male painters and craft artists grew more slowly than for the total work 
force, male professionals and female painters/craft artists, whose median income 
tripled since 1980. Finally, it appeared to the authors that part-year female 
painters/craft artists earned more than their full-year counterparts. 

The discrete surveys Jeffri and Greenblatt studied offered another view, one 
which targets the artist population more narrowly than the Census, and which 
suggests additional ways of looking at how artists view their occupations. These 
surveys also identify other areas of inquiry that broaden the picture of the artist in 
society. Neither the Census nor the discrete surveys purport to provide a longitudinal 
data base, a problem which the authors felt the National Endowment for the Arts 
should perhaps try to address for artists in the future. Finally, the authors concluded 
that research indicates the need for a regular survey of artists, if possible, by the NEA, 
which combines the more relevant aspects of the Census with other areas of inquiry, 
some of which they have identified in their report. 

Performing Artists 

Ann O. Kay and Stephyn G. W. Butcher found that the performing arts have 
become an increasingly important part of American life in recent decades, at least as 
measured by their growing presence. Between 1965 and 1992, the number of 
professional dance companies in this country leaped from 37 to more than 250, and 
their audience from 1 million to over 16 million. Professional nonprofit theatres 
expanded dramatically, with 1992's count of more than 400 theatres representing 
over seven times the number of theatres in 1965. Although Broadway and road shows 
employ proportionately fewer professional actors, resident theatres and other forms 
of professional theatres are expanding. As a percentage of total gross national 
product, the motion picture industry grew by one-third between 1969 and 1989, 
amusement and recreation services grew by half, and radio and television 
broadcasting increased by half. Meanwhile, the number of professional orchestras 
doubled, and opera companies grew fourfold since the mid-1960s. 

From 1970 to 1990, performing artists as a group grew 50 percent faster than 
the national labor force and slightly faster than other professional occupations. The 
dancers and actors-directors occupations were among the fastest growing of all arts 



Executive Summary 



occupations. By contrast, numbers for musicians-composers leveled off during the 
1980s. 

Union survey data have shown musicians are more likely than other performers 
to rely on income from jobs outside their arts profession. In 1980 only 26 percent of 
musicians received all of their income from performing arts work, as against 32 
percent of actors and 62 percent of dancers. 

Throughout the last two decades many performing artists could not find work 
in their profession. In 1990 when the national unemployment rate was 5.3 percent, 
the rate for actors and directors was 13 percent; for dancers, 7 percent, and for 
musicians and composers, 6 percent. During the 1970-90 period, performers' 
unemployment rates consistently exceeded the national average, but each performing 
arts occupation experienced its own unemployment trends. The rate for musicians 
and composers rose and fell over the 1970-90 period, mirroring the national 
unemployment trends. For actors and directors, unemployment held at 
approximately twice the national rate in 1980 and 1990. For dancers, however, 
unemployment moved down from nearly three times the national rate in 1970 to 
within two points of the national rate in 1990. 

Though musicians and composers had somewhat lower rates of unemployment 
than other performers, those who were unemployed during 1990 were out of work 
longer than other performing artists. About one out of eight unemployed musicians 
and composers had been without a job for two to five years in 1990, about three 
times the rate for actors and directors and twice the rate for dancers. For all 
performing artists, though, long term unemployment continued to hamper the full 
utilization of this segment of the work force. 

Survey findings from 1980 suggest that the labor reserve is further increased by 
the discouraged worker phenomenon; that is, by performing artists who leave the 
labor force because they believe no jobs are available. At least 5 percent of actors and 
musicians fit this category that year, with fewer dancers doing so. 

Performers cycle more often between employment and unemployment than 
other workers. More than three out of five actors who had any unemployment in 
1980 were out of work three or more periods, as were more than one out of two 
musicians and nearly one in three dancers. 

Dancers were the performers least likely to work a full year. For those who 
worked anytime in 1989, their median number of weeks worked was 39, compared 
to 50 weeks for actors and directors and 48 for musicians and composers. The latter 
were most likely to report self-employment. 

The principal industry employing performing artists continued to be the 
"theatres and motion pictures" industry, although during the 1980s the number of 
musicians in this industry declined. The industry in which actors showed the greatest 
growth (a 50-fold jump) during these two decades was in "radio and television 
broadcasting and cable." 

Performers as a group increased their income levels over the 1970-90 period, but 
the gains were not equally shared. Actors and directors' median earnings in 1989 were 
$22,000 according to Census data, up from about $12,600 ten years earlier. Census 



Artists in the Work Force 



data also showed one-fourth of actors-directors earning less than $10,000 in 1989. In 
contrast, union pension records, which look only at earnings in the acting profession, 
showed nearly nine out often actors receiving less than $10,000 in 1990. This suggests 
the large extent to which actors must supplement their arts income with outside jobs. 

Dancers' earnings tended to be the lowest in the performing arts. Although their 
median earnings grew from about $5,400 to $8,500 between 1979 and 1989, nearly 
a third of dancers earned less than $5,000 in 1989. Their earnings did not keep up 
with inflation during the 1980s. Meanwhile, musicians and composers saw their 
median earnings rise from $5,600 to $9,900 between 1979 and 1989, and the 
proportion earning less than $10,000 dropped by nearly a third. 

Personal earnings levels from acting were extremely volatile, as union pension 
data show. One out of five actors who had paid work in their profession in 1990 did 
not have any acting income two years later. Half of those who had earnings received 
less than they did two years before. A few went from zero to $60,000 or more in two 
years. 

Earnings levels depended in part on the type of work performers did. Television 
work paid better for the members of one actors union, while theatrical engagements 
were most rewarding for union musicians. 

Performing artists tended to cluster in the West and Northeast regions of the U. 
S., particularly in the New York and Los Angeles areas. Although they lived there to 
be close to the historic centers of performing arts employment, these areas also had 
the highest rates of unemployment for performers. As the number of performers grew 
during the last two decades, so did their geographic distribution. The relative increase 
in the performing artist work force in the South has been a significant geographic 
trend in these 20 years. 

Architecture and Design Arts Occupations 

Harry Hillman Chartrand examined trends in architecture and design 
occupations for 1970-1990. His findings are summarized here. 

First, architecture and design occupations grew significantly over the two decades 
covered by this report, representing 0.6 percent of the experienced labor force, 4.6 
percent of all professional specialty workers and 45.2 percent of the arts labor force 
in 1990. 

Second, architects, decorators and designers 25 to 44 years of age dominate their 
professions, accounting for more than 60 percent of those in the fields. 

Third, both architecture and design were predominantly white professions (90.5 
percent for both) in 1990. However, Hispanics grew from 1.8 percent of all architects 
in 1970 to 5.1 percent in 1990. During the same period, Afro-American architects 
increased from 2.4 percent of all architects to 2.8 percent and non-white and non- 
black architects, largely Asians, grew from 3 percent to 6.7 percent between 1970 
and 1990. 

Among decorators and designers, Hispanics grew from 2.9 percent of the 
profession In 1970 to 5.4 percent in 1990. Afro-Americans grew from 1.9 percent 



Executive Summary 



in 1970 to 3.6 percent in 1990. Non-white and non-black decorators and designers 
grew from 2.1 percent in 1970 to 6.2 percent in 1990. 

Fourth, by 1990 over half of all architects, designers and decorators lived in the 
South or West, with each of these regions home to approximately one-quarter of the 
groups. The Northeast and Midwest have lost their historic dominance of these 
professions. 

Fifth, while architecture remained a predominantly male profession in 1990, 
women architects represented 17.7 percent of all architects then. By contrast, women 
decorators represented 73.3 percent and designers 43.5 percent in their fields in 
1990. 

Sixth, among architects, those with four or more years of college were 80.2 
percent of the profession in 1990, increasing from 73.3 percent in 1970. Among all 
decorators and designers, 35.8 percent had four or more years of college in 1990, 
increasing from 21.6 percent in 1970. 

Seventh, in 1970 self-employed architects represented 36.7 percent of the 
profession. Self-employment decreased to 32.8 percent by 1990. Meanwhile, self- 
employment among all decorators and designers increased from 15.9 percent in 1970 
to 24.6 percent in 1990. Among architects, 25 percent worked part-time in 1990, 
compared to 42.8 percent of decorators and designers. The high level of part-timers 
among decorators and designers reflects a majority of women in these professions. 

Over 75 percent of architects worked in professional services industries, i.e., in 
architectural firms. Over 75 percent of decorators and designers worked in 
manufacturing, retail trade or business and repairs service industries. 

Eighth, in 1987 there were nearly 18,000 architectural establishments with 
receipts of almost $10 billion and 137,000 paid employees. Over 70 percent of 
receipts came from projects involving commercial buildings or public and 
institutional facilities. Nearly 78 percent of receipts were for architectural services 
excluding landscape architecture and 75 percent of receipts were from industrial, 
business, and commercial companies, government and private institutions. 

In 1987 there were 7,202 graphic arts establishments with receipts of $3.2 
billion. The Northeast accounted for 34 percent of receipts; the South, 17.5 percent; 
the Midwest, 25.5 percent and the West, 22.7 percent. 

Ninth, the median annual household income of architects in 1989 was $56,773, 
which was 140 percent of the labor force average, 109 percent of the typical 
professional specialty worker and 128 percent of the typical artist. The median 
annual income of a decorator and designer was $45,873, or 1 13 percent of the labor 
force average, 88.2 percent of the typical professional specialty worker and 103 
percent of the typical artist. 



Introduction 



To understand how artists fared in the work force from 1970 to 1990 it is useful 
to contrast their employment experiences with those of other professionals with 
comparable education and training. This introduction will attempt to do this, 
identifying the labor force terms which appear throughout the four sections of this 
report and the areas of common ground covered by the various authors. It synthesizes 
to some extent key points from the sections which pertain to the overall report — 
points which individual authors explored thoroughly and which will be extracted to 
this section. 

Any study of persons in the labor force must naturally define exactly who is to 
be included. For purposes of their analyses, the authors generally refer to the labor 
groups defined below. They also discuss in their individual sections various aspects of 
these groups as they relate most directly to the specific art fields being discussed. 

• The civilian labor force includes all persons 16 years and older who are currently 
working (the employed), plus those not working but looking for work (the 
unemployed). Persons currently not working and not looking for work are 
described as out of the labor force. Working persons in the military are obviously 
excluded, also. 

• The experienced civilian labor force (ECLF) consists of all employed and 
unemployed persons with recent civilian work experience (again excluding those 
in the military). This more narrowly defined term has been used in recent studies 
of artists commissioned by the NEA and will often appear in this report. 

• Professional specialty workers (PSW) includes artists, athletes, astronomers, 
dentists, engineers, lawyers, miners, nurses, physicians, physicists, optometrists, 
reporters, social workers, among others. 

• All artists include actors and directors, announcers, architects, authors, dancers, 
designers, musicians and composers, painters, sculptors, craft-artists and artist 
printmakers, photographers, teachers of art, drama and music in higher 
education, and also artists and related workers not elsewhere classified. 

Growth Rates in the Labor Force, 1970-1990 

The experienced civilian labor force numbered 79,801,605 according to the 
1970 U.S. Census of Population and Housing. About one in 100 of those, or 
736,960, were artists. By 1980, the experienced labor force had increased by 30.4 
percent to 104,057,985. Authors Ann Kay and Stephyn Butcher attribute this high 
growth rate to a continuing move into the labor force by the baby boom generation 
and an increased participation of women in the labor force. The number of artists 
jumped also, growing an average of 4.0 percent per year from 1970 to 1980, or 47.3 
percent over the decade. This boom in artists' numbers occurred for the same reasons 
as the national labor force, plus a trend toward the increasing importance of 



8 



Introduction 



professional specialty occupations and the service sector in the U.S. economy — a 
trend that continued in the 1980s. 

By 1990, the experienced labor force had grown to 122,473,499 and the artist 
labor force to 1,671,277 (see Tables 1 and 2 in the Performing Artists section). 
Professional specialty occupations also grew dramatically over the 1970-90 period, 
increasing from 8,800,210 workers in 1970 to 12,275,140 in 1980 and to 
16,647,688 in 1990. The growth rate among artists during the 1980s exceeded that 
oftheECLFandPSW. 

The U.S. labor force during the 1970 to 1990 period became better educated, 
more ethnically diverse and comprised of a higher percentage of women. Other 
general demographic trends among all the occupational groups discussed in this 
report include lower rates of marriage and household formation and a decline in the 
percentage of veterans. 

How the Census Classifies Artists 

The authors of the report explained that all of the employment and earnings 
information available from the Census flows from the occupation in which the 
worker was classified. The work history (labor force status, weekly hours, weeks 
worked, income) becomes attached to that occupation. 

The Census asks six basic questions about current or most recent job activity 
with instructions to describe the person's "chief job activity or business last week." 
Respondents who had more than one job were instructed to describe the one at 
which they worked the most hours. If they had no job last week, they should refer to 
their last job or business since 1985. 

The six questions center on: 

• Industry or Employer — employer, kind of business 

• Occupation — kind of work, most important activities 

• Organizational Sector — private nonprofit, government, self-employed, working 
without pay. 

The basic way artists (and others) get fitted into a category is by answering the 
requisite six questions, and Census bureau employees deciding into which category 
they fit based on a classification listing. 

Several authors pointed out concerns over using Census data to analyze labor 
market outcomes of artists revolve around the manner in which occupations are 
defined. A person's choice of occupation is determined by his or her response to a 
request for information on work activity "last week." Further, occupation is self- 
defined; i.e., the respondent names the occupation, rather than picks the best 
available choice from a list. The Census then assigns the respondent's self-defined 
occupation to an existing classification (or creates a new one if warranted). Thus an 
occupational classification consists of a number of individual but related 
occupations. 



10 I Artists in the Work Force 



The Census procedure forces the respondent to select one occupation only. 
Those who worked at more than one job during the reference week are required to 
choose only one — that at which the most time was spent during the week. 

Authors Neil Alper and Gregory Wassail state that the use of Census data to 
analyze labor supply, incomes and other labor market characteristics of artists has 
been challenged by some social scientists with two principal criticisms: (1) that the 
Census defines the term "artist" too broadly, and (2) that the Census mis-classifies or 
ignores some artists because of frequent multiple job-holding in most artistic 
occupations. 

The Census does not actually define the term "artist." Rather, the 1980 and 1990 
Census creates six broad occupational classifications including one called 
"Managerial and Professional Specialty Occupations" that contains all 1 1 Census 
artist occupations. The 1 1 categories are the product of the NEA, and are based on 
which occupations have traditionally comprised its artistic constituency. They are: (1) 
actors and directors, (2) announcers, (3) authors, (4) dancers, (5) designers, (6) 
musicians and composers, (7) painters, sculptors, craft-artists and artist printmakers, 
(8) photographers, (9) artists, performers, and related workers, not elsewhere 
classified, (10) architects (found under the category "Engineers, Architects, and 
Surveyors"), and (11) college and university art, drama, and music teachers (found 
under "Teachers, Postsecondary.") 

While some of the 1 1 categories may indeed be too broad (the artists not 
elsewhere classified category and dancers), others such as architects and radio and 
television announcer categories are sufficiently narrow. 

A second limitation in using Census data discussed by several authors lies in its 
treatment of multiple job-holding. The Census questions force a respondent to 
choose only one occupation and the respondent's labor market experiences for the 
previous calendar year are then attributed to that occupation. While this procedure 
is reasonable for most workers, who largely hold only one job, for artists it does not 
produce an accurate picture of work hours, earnings and other aspects of labor 
market behavior due to their extensive multiple job-holding. 

Alper and Wassail present a case for using a more expansive definition of the 
work force in analyzing the labor market experiences of authors, and artists in 
general. Compared to members of most other professional occupations, artists are 
more often marginalized in the labor market. They often moonlight to make ends 
meet. In addition, career paths in the arts are rarely well defined. Young persons with 
artistic skills and training often find it hard to start an artistic career, either in terms 
of obtaining employment or in finding buyers for their work. Such artists would be 
excluded from the experienced civilian labor force, since they would be classified as 
being unemployed with no prior work experience, or out of the labor force. Other 
artists may be working on their art but unable to sell it, while being supported by a 
spouse or others. It is not obvious how they would describe themselves in the Census 
questionnaire, but they may also wind up classified as out of the labor force. 

Such considerations are particularly relevant to artists struggling to join the artist 
labor force initially, to stay employed in it and to support themselves, with or without 



Introduction I 1 1 



holding multiple jobs. Compared to the general labor force where only 6.2 percent 
worked in rwo or more occupations in 1989, a large percentage of artists have to 
moonlight to survive. 

Strengths and Limitations of Census Data 

Several of the authors of this report summarized the strengths of Census and 
other government research data on artist occupations: 

• Data are consistent with and directly compatible with other occupations. 
Their use permits the drawing of comparisons among occupations. 

• Data are collected at regular intervals permitting trend analysis and the drawing 
of comparisons over time. 

• Large sample sizes lead to a comprehensive data base permitting detailed analysis. 

• A broad picture displays central tendencies of the artist population. 

• The data provide an answer to the question, "How many artists?' — a question 
often used by policy makers, funders and arts groups, particularly in times of 
scarce resources. 

Census data report the overall labor market activities of artists. However, Census 
data sources have some limitations: 

• The system of classification. Data are about primary occupation, i.e., where one 
works the most hours. Therefore, artists who work more time in jobs other than their 
art occupation are not classified as artists. Also, the Census classification system will 
make some artists appear more successful in their craft than they really are. 

• Data are of limited usefulness in addressing questions specific to specialized artist 
groups. 

• Data do not reflect certain labor market conditions for artists, i.e., artists who 
work at a different jobs simultaneously, or in more than one art form, or those 
for whom art making is only one of several careers. Thus data are unable to 
account for employment and earnings in secondary/multiple jobs which artists 
often have and which affect their economic welfare to the extent at times of 
keeping them above the poverty level. 

Strengths and Limitations of Non-Census Data 

Each section of this report supplements Census data with information obtained 
from direct surveys of general and specific artist groups, and from professional 
organizations and industry records. While the Census is more comprehensive, these 
surveys are more detailed. Authors Joan Jeffri and Robert Greenblatt point out that 
some discrete surveys are also more attitudinally based than the Census, which some 
economists are beginning to acknowledge as important when studying economic 



1 2 I Artists in the Work Force 



data on artists. Thus these other data have the indirect result of providing a forum 
for artists to advocate for themselves, plus indicating areas for further research. 

Surveys analyzed in this report include studies based on general surveys of artists 
where a broad range of artistic occupations is targeted and the information collected 
is relevant to all artists. Also included are studies based on specialized surveys of a 
single artistic occupation. A third source of data is information provided by artists to 
a professional organization or union. 

Harry Chartrand and other authors of this report summarized some of the 
advantages of these non-Census data sources: 

• Data are on those generally accepted as "professional" in their field. 

• Data are useful in addressing questions specific to such professionals. 

• They provide valuable reference information since they offer comparable data for 
similar occupations. 

• Questions geared to particular occupational groups yield answers that are more 
illustrative of the labor market experiences of that group. Chartrand and others 
also point out these disadvantages of non-Census data: 

• Data are not necessarily compatible with other occupations. 

• Data are not necessarily collected on a regular basis, limiting trend analysis. 

• Surveys aimed at general artist groups may not truly represent the population of 
artists and are not likely to be as statistically reliable. 

• Regarding use of union records, it is difficult to generalize the results to the artist 
labor force in general. 

Comparing data from Census and non-Census sources cannot help but present 
a more complete portrait of artists in the labor force. Figures and percentages from 
such different data bases will not always agree, but despite these differences, each of 
the various data sources provides a unique view or insight into the conditions 
affecting the employment and earnings of artists. 

The labor market for artists toward the close of the 20th century is challenging 
for those risk-loving individuals who balance "making it big" in the art world against 
perhaps not making it at all. The employment answer for many artists appears to be 
supplementing their volatile earnings in art endeavors with more predictable earnings 
from secondary jobs such as teaching. 

Continuing research by the National Endowment for the Arts and others will 
further illuminate market conditions for those artists who — more than any other 
workers — shape today's culture. 

NOTE: The following reports have been condensed from full-length statistical 
studies. The authors' original comprehensive documents are available in the 
Educational Research Information Center (ERIC) system. They may be accessed by 
use of these ERIC numbers for Chapters I, II, & III in the order of the chapters: 
ERIC #ED385856, ERIC # ED390728 and ERIC # ED390727. Chapter IV may 
be accessed by use of its full original title: Architecture and Design Arts Occupations 
1940 to 1990. 



I. The Write Stuff: 

Employment and Earnings of Authors 1 970 

to 1 990 

by Neil O. Alper and Gregory H. Wassail 

Overview 



Successful authors are frequently in the news. Winners of the major prizes for 
writing receive extensive press coverage. Best selling authors make public 
appearances on television, at book signings and readings in book stores. Those 
authors, including television and film scriptwriters, fortunate enough to command 
top money, are especially newsworthy. One example reported in the Los Angeles 
Times is the $18.9 million paid author Dean Koontz by publisher Alfred A. Knopf 
for a three-book contract. Two film scripts that sold for $4 million apiece also raised 
some eyebrows. Given the media interest and public attention that prominent writers 
enjoy, surprisingly little statistical information about them reaches social scientists, 
policy analysts, policy makers or writers themselves. 

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) commissioned this report as part 
of its research on employment and earnings of artists in the labor force. The NEA 
supports research on the artist work force in general and also shows a special interest 
in writers through its Literature Program which has aided writers with fellowships 
and other means. 

This report surveys and synthesizes current knowledge on the employment and 
earnings of authors between 1970 and 1990, compiling and comparing statistics on 
how they go about making a living, including second occupations, and how 
successful their efforts are. The information comes largely from the U.S. Census and 
other government censuses, surveys of authors and from records of writers' unions 
and professional organizations. It is hoped that by consolidating information from 
diverse sources some sense may be made of the writing profession. In comparing 
statistics among surveys and censuses, the diversity in definitions, sampling 
procedures and sample sizes should be noted. 

The U.S. Census, listing about 107,000 American authors, is the most 
comprehensive source of information about them in the country. As mentioned in 
the general introduction to this report, it affords several advantages in studying the 
labor market experiences of artists, and also has some shortcomings. Because the 
Census requires every worker to declare only one occupation, all work experiences 
and earnings in a given year are attributed to that occupation. For authors and many 
other artists, this leads to an overstatement of earnings from their craft, because direct 
surveys have turned up significant percentages working in other occupations in a 
given year. 



13 



14 I Artists in the Work Force 



Sources of information about authors which deal with multiple-job holding 
among occupations include the annual Cutrent Population Survey. Surveys 
specifically aimed at writers give more detail about personal characteristics, working 
conditions and earnings. Records of authors' unions and professional organizations 
offer little personal information, and often provide data only on sources of income 
through union recognized activity. 

The author profession as treated in this work embraces poetry, fiction and 
creative nonfiction, in English or in translation. Census statistics used here, unless 
otherwise noted, are drawn from the broadest definition of authors and related 
professionals: all persons who indicated occupational membership, regardless of 
whether they were in the labor force at the time of the Census. In 1990, 14 percent 
or authors indicated occupational affiliation, despite not being members of the labor 
force (neither working nor actively seeking work). 

Profile of American Authors 

The author occupation is growing rapidly. Between 1970 and 1990 their 
numbers increased by 285 percent, with half of this phenomenal growth occurring 
between 1985 and 1990. Nevertheless, authors still constitute a very small fraction 
of the nation's labor force, or nine in 10,000 in 1990. 

Relative to the entire labor force, authors are concentrated in states along the 
Atlantic and Pacific coasts, although this concentration lessened somewhat from 
1970 to 1990. California and New York are home to more authors than other states 
and have the highest percentage of authors in their labor force. The Los Ajigeles and 
New York City metropolitan areas have the highest percentages of authors in their 
labor forces, and the greatest number of authors, of any metropolitan areas in the 
country. 

Members of the author profession are well educated. In 1990 they averaged 15.8 
years of education, more than other artists and other professional and technical 
workers. They are also older; their average age of 44 years exceeded that of artists by 
five years and that of other professional and technical workers by four years. In 1990 
half of all authors were men and 95 percent were white. These percentages were 
higher than those of other professional and technical workers. Over the 1970 to 1990 
period the author profession had a lower percentage of minorities than artists or other 
professional and technical occupations. It contained more women than did the artist 
profession, but fewer than did the other reference groups. 

Authors had higher rates of unemployment than other professional and technical 
workers, but lower rates than other artists. In 1990 only 40 percent of authors 
worked full-time year-round (working at least 35 hours per week and 50 weeks per 
year). By comparison, 46 percent of artists and 56 percent of other professional and 
technical workers worked full-time. 

Compared to the average artist and professional/technical worker, authors were 
far more likely to be self-employed, and less likely to work for private sector 
employers. Therefore, authors received a higher percentage of their earnings from 



The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1 970 to 1 990 I 1 5 



self-employment, although these earnings still were typically less than half of authors' 
total earnings. In 1989 authors' total earnings were $23,335. (Earnings and income 
data are annual averages, and refer to the year prior to the Census.) In both 1979 and 
1989 authors earned less than other professional and technical workers, and less than 
editors, reporters and technical writers. In 1969 and 1989 they earned more than 
other artists. 

Because authors worked fewer hours per year than members of the other 
reference occupations, their computed hourly wage is higher than that of the other 
reference groups in all three Census years. Census data also show that authors' total 
personal incomes are higher than those of all artists, but lower (except in 1969) than 
those of other professional and technical workers. The average total personal income 
of authors in 1989 was $30,089, while their average total household income was 
$62,083. 

Between 1969 and 1989 the earnings of authors grew by 175 percent. However, 
this earnings growth lagged behind that of the other reference occupations, and 
behind changes in the Consumer Price Index. In constant 1969 dollars, the real 
earnings of authors fell by $1,567. The earnings of other reference groups, except for 
the professional and technical workers, also fell over this period. 

Similar trends were found in total personal income. Between 1969 and 1989 real 
personal income of authors fell by $924. Real personal incomes of the reference 
groups fell also, except for other professional/technical workers. Authors' household 
income, however, outpaced inflation, rising by $2,370. All reference occupations 
showed increases in real household income, resulting primarily from the rising labor 
force participation of women over this period. 

One interesting characteristic of authors' earnings is their relative inequality. In 
1989 more authors had zero or negative earnings, and more earned over $90,000 
than any of the reference groups. Essentially the same earnings distribution, relative 
to the other occupations, was found in 1979 and 1969. 

The same array of statistics was examined for authors in the experienced civilian 
labor force, and for authors who worked full-time year round. Authors in the 
experienced civilian labor force earned $25,800 in 1989, or $2,465 more than all 
Census authors (i.e., including authors out of the labor force in 1990). Other 
occupations, when limited to labor force members, experienced comparable earnings 
increases. Personal and household income rankings did not change either. The 
average personal income of authors in the experienced civilian labor force in 1989 
was $31,788; their average household income was $63,019. 

Comparing only authors and members of other professions who work full-time 
year-round minimizes earnings differences caused solely by different amounts of time 
worked per year. Authors, as mentioned, worked fewer hours per year. As a result, the 
annual earnings of full-time authors compare more favorably to their counterparts in 
other occupations. For example, in 1989 full-time authors' earnings of $35,896 
placed them above artists, editors, reporters and technical writers, and below only 
other professional and technical workers. 



1 6 I Artists in the Work Force 



Differences in earnings and income by gender, race and ethnicity were also 
examined. Given the small size of the author profession and the relatively small 
percentage of minorities working as authors, racial and ethnic comparisons were 
made only among white, black and Hispanic authors. In all three Census years, 
significant disparities between the average earnings of men and women authors were 
found. The earnings disparity narrowed between 1969 and 1989, but still remained 
significant. In 1989 women's earnings were only 52 percent of men's. Differences in 
median earnings and wages were smaller, indicating more men were concentrated in 
the high earnings and hourly wage region. Gender differences in personal and house- 
hold incomes were smaller. In fact, women authors had higher household income. 

Differences in earnings among white, black and Hispanic authors were smaller. 
In 1989 black authors' earnings were 91 percent of white authors earnings, and 
Hispanic authors' earnings were 87 percent. Greater disparities appeared in personal 
income and household income between white and minority authors. The ratio of 
black to white authors' personal income was 85 percent, and the ratio of Hispanic to 
white authors' personal income was 80 percent. 

Evidence on Authors' Multiple Job Holding 

The Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, even with its small sample size, 
consistently found high multiple job holding rates for authors and artists. From the 
mid-1980s to the early 1990s moonlighting rates for authors exceeded all other 
professional workers. In 1991 the rate for authors was double that of all artists, 
almost three times that of all other professionals and almost four times the rate of the 
total work force. 

Evidence from non-census surveys of authors, or artists including authors, 
confirms that writers' labor market behavior in a given year involves working at more 
than one job. Alper- Wassail's survey of New England artists, undertaken in 1981-82, 
found that only one in five authors worked full time at writing, and the majority 
worked in a job related to their writing some time during the year, primarily 
teaching. Additionally, 45 percent held jobs unrelated to their writing. The evidence 
shows several of these work activities were done simultaneously. 

Columbia University's Research Center for Arts and Culture survey undertaken 
in 1989 found that 90 percent of the writers needed to work at some non-writing job 
to support their writing, and that almost half were multiple job holders at the time 
they were surveyed. Similar behavior was identified in the Columbia Survey of 
American Authors done for the Authors' Guild in 1979. It found that 70 percent of 
authors had earnings from non-writing work, and that almost half held regular 
salaried positions not as writers. Like the other studies, it found that the majority (90 
percent) of those who had second jobs held professional jobs, not the traditional 
service or clerical jobs of the stereotypical "starving artist." 

Surveys of authors in other countries suggest that multiple job holding for 
writers is not a uniquely U.S. phenomenon. A study of the members of the British 
Society of Authors and the Writers' Guild found that only 1 7 percent of authors 



The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1 970 to 1 990 I 1 7 



worked only as writers, and that 67 percent of those surveyed identified writing as a 
secondary occupation. A French study found that 30 percent of the authors worked 
at another trade during the survey year, and that 70 percent had done so at some time 
during their writing career. In Finland, only 22 percent of the authors indicated that 
they were full-time writers, and fully half indicated a non-writing occupation for tax 
purposes. 

The importance of authors' moonlighting activity is best determined by 
examining its impact on their economic well-being. Alper- Wassail found that two- 
thirds of the authors' labor market earnings and almost 60 percent of their total 
income comes from working in a non-writing job. The Columbia Research Center's 
study data suggests that non-writing income, labor and non-labor income combined 
account for almost 80 percent of total writers' income. Columbia's study for the 
Authors' Guild reported that median writing income comprised 33 percent of 
median total personal income, and for the group most dedicated to writing — the 
"committed full-timers" — writing income was only 77 percent of total income. 
Without their other jobs that are often held concurrently with their writing work, 
clearly the economic well-being of authors would be much worse, and most writers 
would be classified as poor. 

Evidence on Authors from Non-Census Sources 

The value of non-census surveys goes beyond their ability to examine the rather 
unique labor market behavior of authors and other artists. Following is a summary 
of additional findings from the three surveys already discussed and three studies 
utilizing the administrative records of the Writers' Guild of America, west, a union 
for writers in the television, radio and film industries. 

Demographic characteristics of authors follow a generally consistent pattern 
across all the studies. Authors are primarily white with an average age around 40 
years. The proportion of non-white seems to be increasing. The two earliest studies 
(Columbia's Authors' Guild and Alper- Wassail) found approximately 3 percent non- 
white authors. The later survey (Columbia's Research Center) found almost 10 
percent non-white, and the union's administrative records showed almost double the 
number of minority members from 1986 to 1991. 

The gender composition of the profession appears to be changing as well. The 
earliest study found 60 percent of the authors were female. AJper- Wassail found an 
even distribution, and the latest survey (Columbia's Research Center) found 60 
percent female writers. The union's administrative records suggest an increase in 
female writers employed from 1982, but they accounted for only 22 percent of 
employed writers in 1991. 

Writers, like their artistic colleagues, are very well-educated compared with the 
general population — a consistent finding for all the surveys. Alper- Wassail found 
they were better educated than both performers and visual artists. They were also 
found, by both Alper- Wassail and Columbia's Research Center, to have started their 
training to be writers about age 16, which is considerably older than performers, but 
about the same as visual artists. 



1 8 I Artists in the Work Force 



Two of the surveys, Columbia's Authors' Guild study and Alper- Wassail, found 
the income of other family members to be important in explaining the ability of 
writers to work at their craft, and that family income for the writers was well above 
the poverty thresholds at the time of the surveys. 

Aji additional impact on writers' economic well-being is the cost they incur to 
write. Alper- Wassail found that writing earnings net of costs averaged half of the 
writing earnings, and that median writing earnings net of costs were negative. 
Columbia's Research Center's findings were similar, showing that only about 43 
percent of the authors had writing income that exceeded their costs. 

Female authors were found to consistently earn less than male authors. 
Columbia's Authors' Guild study showed female authors' median earnings from 
writing to be 77 percent of the male median. This was a considerably smaller 
difference than the Alper- Wassail finding where female authors' average earnings 
from their writing were only 20 percent of their male colleagues' earnings. When 
adjustments were made for the fact that women spent much less time writing during 
the year, Alper- Wassail's estimated differential for hourly wage was that women 
writers earned about 40 percent of male earnings. The three Writers' Guild studies 
identified differentials more in line with the Authors' Guild study, and found the 
earnings to fluctuate over time. In 1982 median female earnings were 73 percent of 
male earnings. In 1986 they were about 60 percent of male earnings and in 1991 they 
were about 75 percent of male earnings. 

Considerable differences exist in earnings related to the type of writing the 
author does and for whom they work, according to findings by the Columbia's 
Authors' Guild study and the Writers' Guild studies. The Authors' Guild study found 
that poets earn the least from their writing, authors of academically oriented 
nonfiction were slightly better off, children's books writers and writers of general 
adult fiction were in the middle, and writers of "genre" fiction earned the most. The 
Writers' Guild studies found that writers in television tended to earn more than 
writers in film, but the difference narrowed over the decade of the studies to a 
difference of only 3 percent in 1991. Greater disparities were found in earnings based 
on the type of firm the writer worked for, regardless of whether it was in television 
or film. Writers who worked for the major television or film production companies 
earned considerably more. In 1991, for example, writers working for the major film 
producers had median earnings 1 1 5 percent higher than their colleagues working for 
the smaller independent film producers. 

Authors in the U. S. Census, 1970 to 1990 

This section presents and analyzes evidence on the employment, earnings, labor 
market and other related characteristics of authors using information in the 1970, 
1980 and 1990 U. S. Census. The evidence is presented separately for men, women, 
white, black and Hispanic authors. It compares authors to all artists, using the 
definition of artist employed by the National Endowment for the Arts. Included in 
the Census definition are: (1) actors and directors, (2) announcers, (3) authors, (4) 



The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1 970 to 1 990 I 1 9 



dancers, (5) designers, (6) musicians and composers, (7) painters, sculptors, 
craft-artists and artist printmakers, (8) photographers, and (9) artists, performers and 
related workers, not elsewhere classified. The following Census occupations have 
been added by the NEA: (10) architects, and (11) college and university art, drama 
and music teachers. Secondly, authors are compared to all professional and technical 
workers, excluding artists, and members of several other occupations, including two 
with similar characteristics to authors: editors and reporters, and technical writers. 

Census Data Used to Analyze Authors' Work Experiences 

Most of the information reported on in this section is derived from the 1970, 
1980 and 1990 Census Public Use Microdata Samples (often simply called PUMS). 
Each contains a sample of the responses from households who completed the Census 
long form questionnaire. A minority of households are asked to complete the long 
form, approximately 16 percent of all households in the 1990 Census. The 1990 long 
form contained 26 housing questions and 33 personal questions. 

The PUMS is unique in that the unit of observation is the household and person 
record. Because information about individuals is revealed, several steps are taken to 
insure anonymity, including less detail about geographic location than is available in 
other Census releases which use aggregated data, typically over geographical areas. 

Since the inception of PUMS in 1940, the Census Bureau has extracted different 
sized samples for researchers to work with, determined somewhat by the ability of 
existing computer systems to store and process the data. In 1980 and 1990, a basic 
five percent sample and a supplemental one percent sample were drawn. The 
supplemental samples are focused on different geographic information (states, county 
groups and neighborhoods), or different segments, such as the elderly population. Or 
in 1990, for example, the supplemental one percent sample, like the five percent 
sample, was based on a random selection of respondents who completed the long 
form questionnaire. 

The principal advantages of using Census Public Use Microdata are noted here. 
First, the Census sampling and information collection and tabulation procedures are 
very sophisticated; information gained in the PUMS can be generalized to the entire 
population with relatively small margins of error. Second, samples are large, 
permitting analyses of small occupations such as artists, and within that category, 
authors, for example. Third, vast information is obtained from the Census due to the 
wide variety of questions asked on the long form. Fourth, the Census provides 
consistent observations on a large sample of the population every ten years, enabling 
many types of comparisons over time. 

Issues in Using Census Data to Analyze Authors' Labor Force 

Controversies over the use of Census data to analyze labor market outcomes of 
artists are discussed in the general introduction to this report, so only those 
particularly relevant to authors will be treated here. 



20 I Artists in the Work Force 



Respondents to the 1990 long form questionnaire were asked to describe their 
chief job activity or business the prior week. If this person had more than one job, 
the job at which the most hours were worked was to be listed. 

Suppose that people who call themselves authors hold non-writing jobs as well 
in a calendar year. By attributing all time spent working and all earnings for an entire 
year to the author occupation, the Census overestimates the importance of that 
occupation in a person's total work effort and earnings. 

The Census tally of the number of authors would seem to be accurate, since only 
those for whom writing is their principal work declare themselves as authors. Those 
devoting more time and effort to other occupations declare themselves as members 
of those occupations. Of course, many persons with little or no earnings from their 
art nevertheless consider themselves to be artists. If authors moonlight, then the time 
spent working, the earnings and other attributes of labor market behavior are 
overstated for the author profession. The evidence suggests that multiple job-holding 
is common among authors and several other artist occupations to a greater extent 
than in most non-artist occupations. Direct studies of authors and other artists 
discussed later verify that a significant percentage of moonlighting authors' (artists') 
work time and earnings are from jobs outside their artistic profession. In defense of 
the Census methodology, it's worth noting that such direct surveys elicit responses 
from persons who may devote only a small fraction of their work time to their art 
and would appear in the Census Public Use Sample as members of other occupations. 

To summarize: The Census classification system will make authors and several 
other types of artists appear to be more successful in their chosen occupation than they 
actually are. Despite this, it reports their overall labor market activities accurately. 

Whom Does the Census Define as an Author? 

Since the Census procedure permits individuals to describe their occupations, 
every type of author or writer may be found in the Census PUMS. However, not every 
author or writer is found in the authors occupational category. All occupations which 
were included in the authors category between 1970 and 1990 are listed below: 



Author 
Biographer 
Continuity man 
Continuity writer 
Dramatist 
Fiction writer 
Free-lance writer 
Gag writer 
Game author 
Ghost writer 
Handbook writer 
Humorist 
Lexicographer 



Librettist 
Literary writer 
Lyricist 

Magazine writer 
Manual writer 
Novelist 
Play writer 
Playwright 
Poet 
Poetess 

Professional writer 
Program writer 
Radio script writer 



Scenario writer 

Scientific writer 

Screen writer 

Script writer 

Short story writer 

Special writer 

Speech writer 

Story writer 

Television script writer 

Television writer 

Verse writer-greeting cards 

Writer-not specified 



The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1970 to 1990 I 21 



The authors category includes all writers of fiction and many other types of 
writer as well. The Census does not provide the relative distribution of persons across 
these occupations. 

Writers are also found in other Census occupation categories. For example, a 
sampling of listings within the editors and reporters category reveals (in 1990) 
advertising copy writer, columnist, art critic, book critic, copy writer, editorial writer, 
feature writer, literary writer, news writer and sports writer. Similarly, the technical 
writers category contains writers in the fields of engineering, health and science, plus 
specialists in documentation and technical writing. Technical writers became an 
occupational category in 1980; prior to 1980, they were included in the artists, 
performers and related workers not elsewhere classified. In 1990, the latter category 
contained among its unique potpourri of occupations a few at the very fringes of the 
writing profession, such as crossword puzzle maker and language translator. One 
might conclude that the author occupational category, if viewed as encompassing all 
"creative" writing, could be construed as too broad. On the other hand, if viewed as 
encompassing all those who earn their living from writing, it could be construed as 
too narrow. 

As discussed in the general introduction to this report, most studies of persons 
in the labor force use the civilian labor force as their baseline definition. A variant of 
this definition — the experienced civilian labor force — includes all persons not in the 
military who are working, but only those unemployed persons who have had recent 
prior work experience. 1 In the section immediately following, the size and geographic 
and industrial distribution of authors in the experienced civilian labor force are 
examined. 

However, compelling arguments also favor analyzing the labor market 
experiences of authors and other artists, using a more expansive definition of the 
work force. There are numerous anecdotal examples of struggling writers whose 
status would officially place them either out of the labor force or as members of other 
occupations for extended periods in their careers. Fortunately, the Census permits the 
use of a more expansive definition. It includes all persons who call themselves authors 
in the Census PUMS, regardless of labor market status or work experience. These 
persons will be called all Census authors. 

In light of these considerations, the rest of this part of the report uses three 
different definitions of the author profession: authors in the experienced civilian labor 
force, all Census authors and full-time year-round authors (those who worked at least 35 
hours per week and 50 weeks per year). In the next section (see Tables 1 through 4), 
information on the size and growth of the profession and on industry and locational 
preferences of authors is presented for those authors who are members of the civilian 
labor force. In the remainder of the section (including Tables 5 through 16), where 
characteristics of the representative author are presented and compared to counter- 
parts in the reference occupational groups, the all Census authors definition is used. 

Looking at all Census authors makes writers, as well as all artists, appear slightly 
less successful relative to other professional and technical workers for three reasons: 
(1) a slightly higher percentage of all Census authors is found in the out of the labor 
force category; (2) a higher percentage of authors in the experienced civilian labor 



22 I Artists in the Work Force 



force is unemployed; and (3) a lower percentage of working authors holds full-time 
employment. Looking at only those authors in the experienced civilian labor force 
has a similar effect, since reasons (2) and (3) still apply. If one's objective is to 
compare authors to members of other occupations when they share the same job 
status, perhaps the best choice is to compare the labor market experiences of only 
full-time, year round workers in each profession (those who worked at least 35 hours 
per week and 50 weeks per year). 

Growth in the Author Profession and Where Writers Work 

The growth in the author profession over the 1970-90 period was exceptional 
and erratic. Authors in the experienced civilian labor force grew more rapidly than 
any other artist class, at an astonishing rate of 285 percent over this period, 
numbering 106,730 by 1990. The most dramatic growth was between 1985 and 
1990 when the number of authors roughly doubled (Table 1). Table 2 shows the 
regional distribution of authors in the 1970-90 Census years. The nine-region 
breakdown in this table is commonly used in geographic displays of Census data. 







TABLE 1 






NUMBERS OF AUTHORS IN THE EXPERIENCED CIVILIAN LABOR 

FORCE, COMPARED TO (1) ARTISTS, (2) PROFESSIONALS, AND 

(3) ALL WORKERS, 1970 TO 1990 


CATEGORY 


1970 


1980 


1990 


GROWTH RATE 


Authors 


27,752 


45,748 


106,730 


284.6% 


Artists 


736,960 


1,085,693 


1,671,278 


126.8% 


Professionals 


8,800,210 


12,275,140 


16,647,688 


89.2% 


All Workers 


80,051,046 


104,057,985 


123,044,450 


53.7% 


Source: Diane C. Ellis and John C. Beresford, Trends in Artist Occupations, 

1970-1990 (Washington: National Endowment for the Arts, 1994). 



In 1980 and 1990 the Pacific region, dominated by California, contained the 
most authors. In 1970 this region was second in number of authors to the Mid- 
Atlantic (including New York), which in turn came in second in 1980 and 1990. The 
Pacific region, however, ranked third in the rate of growth of authors over the 20-year 
period. The Mountain region had the highest rate of growth, closely followed by the 
West South Central region. The Mid-Atlantic had the slowest growth in authors, 
closely followed by New England. Larger regions naturally tend to be home to more 
authors, but differences exist between authors and all members of the labor force, 
both in terms of where they are located and of relative regional growth. 

Location quotients are used to show regional concentration, usually of industries 
or of workers. Here a location quotient is used to show occupational concentration, 
the percentage of authors who reside in a region divided by the percentage of the 



The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1970 to 1990 I 23 



entire labor force which resides in the region. For example, a location quotient greater 
than one will be found in a region in which a larger percentage of the author labor 
force resides than of the overall labor force. A location quotient of exactly one implies 
identical shares of the author and the total labor force in a region. For any 
occupation, the entire country must have a location quotient of one. 

How this plays out among the nine Census regions can be seen in Table 2. The 
two regions with the greatest endowment of authors relative to the entire labor force 
have rather consistently been the Pacific and the Mid-Atlantic. However, there has 
been a gradual trend toward a geographic distribution of authors more closely aligned 
with the distribution of the entire labor force. This is shown by the convergence of 
the regional location quotients toward one. Most notable in this convergence process 
is New England, which in 1970 had the highest concentration of authors. Its location 
quotient is now almost one. 



TABLE 2 

NUMBERS AND RELATIVE DISTRIBUTION OF AUTHORS IN THE 
EXPERIENCED CIVILIAN LABOR FORCE, BY CENSUS REGIONAL 

DIVISION, 1970-1990 



REGION 



NUMBER OF AUTHORS 



1970 



1980 



1990 



AUTHOR LOCATION QUOTIENT 



1970 



1980 



1990 



New England 

Mid-Atlantic 

East North 
Central 

West North 
Central 

South Atlantic 

East South 
Central 

West South 
Central 

Mountain 

Pacific 

TOTAL 



2749 
7116 
2915 

1609 



3119 
11968 

4244 

1945 



8190 
21121 
11152 

5730 



4713 6068 16804 
685 654 2767 



1121 2192 



6407 



1054 2514 6490 
5790 13044 28119 

27752 45748 106730 



1.606 
1.359 
0.520 

0.720 

1.145 
0.423 

0.450 

0.976 
1.582 



1.154 
1.154 
0.490 

0.523 

0.848 
0.239 

0.480 

0.954 
1.994 



1.026 
1.325 
0.608 

0.714 

0.898 
0.449 

0.578 

1.123 
1.689 

1 



DIVISIONAL BREAKDOWN: New England: CT, ME, MA, NH, Rl, VT. Mid-Atlantic: NJ, 
NY, PA. East North Central: IL, IN, Ml, OH, Wl. West North Central: IA, KN, MN, MO, 
NE, ND, SD. South Atlantic: DE, DC, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA, WV. East South Central: 
AL, KY, MS, TN. West South Central: AR, LA, OK, TX. Mountain: AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, 
NM, UT, WY. Pacific: AK, CA, HI, OR, WA. 



SOURCE: Ellis and Beresford, Trends in Artist Occupations, 1970-1990 (Washington: 
National Endowment for the Arts, 1994), Table 5; U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau 
of Labor Statistics, Geographic Profile of Employment and Unemployment (Washington, 
various years). 



24 I Artists in the Work Force 



More detail on author residence can be seen at the state level. Table 3 shows the 
ten states in which the most authors resided in the three Census years. These top ten 
states have been home to roughly two-thirds of all authors in the labor force in each 
Census year, regardless of their identity and ranking. California ranked first in author 
residence in 1980 and 1990, but second to New York in 1970. Washington joined 
the top ten ranking in 1990. Other states ascending the rankings are Texas, rising 
from ninth in 1970 to third in 1990, and Florida, rising from eleventh in 1970 to 
fifth in 1990. 



TABLE 3 

THE TEN STATES WITH THE MOST AUTHORS IN THE EXPERIENCED 

CIVILIAN LABOR FORCE IN 1990 



STATE 



Amount in 1990 



Amount in 1980 



Amount in 1970 



California 


23,251 


New York 


14,804 


Texas 


4,753 


Illinois 


4,264 


Florida 


4,116 


Virginia 


4,056 


Massachusetts 


4,042 


Pennsylvania 


3,281 


New Jersey 


3,036 


Washington 


2,679 


Top Ten in Each Year 




as % of Total Author 




Labor Force 


64.0% 



11,272 
9,361 
1,487 
1,701 
1,352 
1,320 
1,525 
1,237 
1,370 
852 



68.9% 



5,035 
5,567 
721 
840 
708 
914 
1,347 
710 
839 
448 



66.4% 



SOURCE: Ellis and Beresford, Trends in Artist Occupations, 1970-1990 

(Washington: National Endowment for the Arts, 1994), Table 5. 



Another way to look at the distribution of authors among states is to examine 
their percentages in each state's experienced civilian labor force, where the ten states 
with the highest percentage of author to total employment are ranked. The top ten 
states in this ranking are New York, California, Vermont, New Mexico, Virginia, 
Massachusetts, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington and Alaska. New York and 
California top both state rankings, and may well be special cases, with their 
concentrations of radio, television, film, publishing and advertising industries. Many, 
if not all of the ten states in this ranking are high "quality of life" states where people 
with no constraints on where they can live would be likely to locate. Prime examples 
are Vermont and New Mexico. 

For Whom Authors Work: Distribution by Industry 



When authors in the experienced civilian labor force are split into the ten broad 
industry groups derived from the Census, 65.9 percent of authors are found in 



The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1 970 to 1 990 I 25 



Professional and Related Services. In 1990 only Construction and Manufacturing 
also contained more than 10 percent of the total. Because most industry groups 
contain a large number of industries, it is more enlightening to examine which 
specific industries employ the most authors. Table 4 shows that Miscellaneous 
Professional Services employed 52.2 percent of all authors in 1990. All other 
industries held no more than 7 percent of author employment in each Census year. 
The top ten industries combined employed 80.8 percent of all authors in 1990. Of 
the top ten industries in 1990, nine were also in the top ten in 1980, but only four 
were among the ten largest in 1970. 



TABLE 4 

THE TEN INDUSTRIES WHICH EMPLOYED THE MOST AUTHORS IN 

1990 AND THEIR PERCENTAGE SHARE OF THE AUTHOR 

EXPERIENCED CIVILIAN LABOR FORCE 



INDUSTRY 



% in 1990 


% in 1980 


% in 1970 


52.2% 


72.2% 


39.9% 


6.7 


4.8 


6.5 


4.9 


3.4 


1.7 


4.2 


1.5 


2.5 


3.3 


* 


* 


2.5 


1.2 


1.3 


2.2 


2.3 


2.1 


1.8 


2.0 


0.8 


1.6 


0.9 


0.4 


1.4 


0.5 


** 



Miscellaneous Professional Services 

Printing and Publishing, 

except Newspapers 

Theaters and Motion Pictures 

Colleges and Universities 

Management and Public 

Relations Services 

Advertising 

Radio and Television Broadcasting 

Newspaper Printing and Publishing 

Business Services, n.e.c. 

Research, Development, 

and Testing Services 

Top Ten in Each Year as % 

of Total Author Labor Force 



80.8 



90.0 



74.0 



* Included in Miscellaneous Professional Services in 1980 and 1970. 
**lncluded in Miscellaneous Professional Services in 1970. 
SOURCE: Authors' tabulation 1970, 1980, 1990 U.S. Census PUMS. 



Demographic Characteristics of Authors 



The information that follows incorporates everyone who identified himself or 
herself as an author in the Census, regardless of being in the experienced civilian 
labor force at Census time. Therefore it includes (1) those who were unemployed 
with no prior work experience, (2) those claiming an occupation but who are out of 
the labor force, and (3) those employed by the military. By changing to the more 
inclusive all Census authors description from the experienced civilian labor force 
description, the number of authors covered increased significantly. 



26 I Artists in the Work Force 



Basic demographic characteristics of all Census authors in 1970-90 are shown in 
Tables 5 through 8. Tables 5 and 6 show detailed characteristics of all authors, and 
then of selected reference groups: all artists (including authors), all professional and 
technical workers other than artists, and the two closely related job categories: editors 
and reporters and technical writers. Tables 7 and 8 reproduce the same characteristics 
of all authors, and then of male, female, white, black and Hispanic authors. 2 









TABLE 5 






DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF ALL CENSUS AUTHORS VS. 




SELECTED REFERENCE GROUPS, 1970 




ATTRIBUTE 


AUTHORS 


ARTISTS 


► PROF/TECH 


EDITORS & 


TECHNICAL 








WORKERS 


REPORTERS 


WRITERS 


Age 


43.0 


39.1 


39.6 


39.9 


NA 


Education 


14.9 


13.6 


15.0 


14.9 


NA 


% WHO ARE: 












Married 


67.2 


66.2 


72.1 


69.1 


NA 


Head of 


68.6 


59.3 


55.2 


63.2 


NA 


Household 












Women 


37.3 


36.3 


47.8 


46.9 


NA 


White 


97.3 


94.6 


93.1 


97.0 


NA 


Black 


2.2 


3.6 


5.4 


1.8 


NA 


Other Race 


0.5 


1.8 


1.5 


1.2 


NA 


Hispanic 


1.5 


3.0 


1.9 


1.3 


NA 


Disabled 


8.1 


7.9 


5.7 


5.9 


NA 


Veteran 


37.0 


30.9 






NA 


Immigrant 


5.2 


8.8 


5.7 


5.4 


NA 


Non-Citizen 


2.0 


3.2 


2.3 


3.0 


NA 


SOURCE: Autho 


rs' tabulations from the 1970 Census PUMS. 







In 1990, the average Census author was 44 years old, and had completed just 
under 16 years of education. Thus it is not surprising to discover that 43 percent of 
all authors held a bachelor's degree. An additional 21 percent had master's degrees. 
Of the authors in the 1990 Census, 57 percent were married and heads of their 
households, 50 percent were women, 95 percent were white, 3 percent were black 
and one percent was Hispanic. 

Most demographic trends found in the overall population and labor force have 
parallels in the author labor force from 1970 to 1990. The U. S. labor force has 
become better educated, more ethnically diverse and comprised of a higher 
percentage of women. Other general demographic trends observed in all the 
occupational groups profiled in Table 5 and 6 include lower rates of marriage and 
household formation and a decline in the percentage of veterans. 

The conventional wisdom in the United States would probably regard authors as 
being very similar to other artists, but authors' demographics differ in many ways 
from those of artists. With respect to education, authors more closely resembled 



The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1 970 to 1 990 I 27 









TABLE 6 






DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF ALL CENSUS AUTHORS VS. 




SELECTED REFERENCE GROUPS, 1990 




ATTRIBUTE 


AUTHORS 


ARTISTS 


PROF/TECH 


EDITORS & 


TECHNICAL 








WORKFRS 


REPORTERS 


WRITERS 


Age 


44.5 


39.1 


40.1 


37.9 


40.2 


Education 


15.8 


14.2 


15.4 


15.4 


15.3 


% WITH DEGREES: 










Bachelor's 


43.3 


30.7 


33.0 


52.6 


44.5 


Master's 


21.1 


9.1 


15.7 


12.9 


15.0 


Professional 


3.0 


1.5 


7.5 


1.4 


0.8 


Doctor's 


6.4 


1.1 


3.1 


1.3 


2.7 


% WHO ARE: 












Married 


57.3 


56.4 


65.1 


52.5 


61.5 


Head of 


57.3 


51.8 


54.0 


55.0 


62.8 


Household 












Women 


50.3 


46.9 


53.4 


52.9 


49.9 


White 


94.7 


89.8 


86.2 


91.6 


92.2 


Black 


2.9 


4.6 


8.0 


5.1 


4.6 


Other Race 


2.4 


5.6 


5.8 


3.3 


3.2 


Hispanic 


1.2 


2.9 


2.2 


1.9 


1.3 


Disabled 


8.3 


6.0 


4.6 


4.2 


5.4 


Veteran 


17.2 


13.3 


15.8 


10.7 


23.3 


Immigrant 


7.5 


10.9 


9.1 


7.4 


6.3 


Non-Citizen 


3.3 


5.4 


3.7 


3.7 


1.8 


SOURCE: Authc 


Drs' tabulations from the 1990 Census PUMS. 







other professional and technical workers from 1970 to 1990. However, their level of 
education exceeded that of all artists by about one-and-a-half years. In 1990 authors 
held more of every type of college degree than all artists, and held more bachelor's, 
master's and doctor's degrees than other professional and technical workers. Authors 
had consistently higher rates of marriage and heading households than artists, 
explained perhaps by their averaging four to seven years older than artists. This age 
differential reflects both later entry and greater longevity in the occupation. It 
narrowed somewhat in 1990, due probably to many new, younger entrants to the 
profession. 

In other respects, authors differ from both artists and other professional and 
technical workers. As noted, authors in every period are older than both groups. 
Persons with work-affecting disabilities 3 consistently form a higher percentage of the 
author labor force than of the other groups, due to the relatively minimal physical 
demands required by writing. The typical author is more likely to be a woman than 
is the typical artist, but less likely to be a woman than the typical 
professional/technical worker. The typical author is less likely to be a member of a 



28 I Artists in the Work Force 



racial minority or to be a Hispanic than either reference group members. Thus no 
numerical evidence in the Census reflects the increasing popularity of African- 
American and Hispanic writers that has occurred in the United States in the 1980s 
and 1990s. The percentage of these two groups in the author labor force actually 
declined in those decades. 

The two groups, editors and reporters and technical writers, appear similar to 
authors, although the age in both has been consistently younger. Educational 
attainment is similar, but some race and gender differences exist. Compared to 
authors, in each Census year editors and reporters have had a higher percentage of 
women and technical writers a lower percentage of women. Both reference groups 
have had a higher percentage of racial and ethnic minorities in their ranks in each 
Census year. 

Data on authors who are also members of the experienced civilian labor force 
show essentially the same picture and will not be treated in detail here. Generally, 
authors in the civilian labor force are younger, better educated, more likely to be 
married and heads of households and less likely to be women. In 1970 and 1980 they 
were more likely to be white. In 1990 the percent of white and black were essentially 
the same. Comparable differences exist between all Census artists and artists in the 
civilian labor force, and apply to professional and technical workers as well. 

Authors who work full-time year-round are a much smaller group, constituting 
39.7 percent of all Census authors and 46.4 percent of authors in the experienced 
civilian labor force. Full-time authors had somewhat more education, were 41 
percent women, and a larger percentage belonged to racial and ethnic minorities. 

The demographic characteristics of authors over the 1970-90 period, broken 
into gender, race and ethnicity are shown in Tables 7 and 8. Over all three Census 
years, white authors were older and had completed more formal education than 
minority authors. Male authors in 1980 and 1990 were older and possessed more 
formal education with a higher percentage of men writers possessing professional and 
doctoral degrees. More women writers possessed bachelor's and master's degrees. In 
general, a higher percentage of white writers possessed bachelor's and higher degrees 
than minority writers, with the exception of Hispanic writers. 

Authors in the Labor Market 

In this section a variety of characteristics relating to the labor market status of 
authors and their reference groups is examined. Tables 9-10 present information on 
authors versus the selected reference groups for 1970-90. Tables 1 1 and 12 focus on 
labor market characteristics over the 20-year period by gender, race and ethnicity 
rather than by reference groups. 

Several important points should be kept in mind relating to how this 
information was collected. First, questions on labor market experiences may refer to 
the Census year or to the prior year, depending on the reported activity in which the 
respondent was engaged in during the reference week. Other statistics provided in 
these tables, such as full-time, year-round status and average hours and weeks 
worked, refer to work experience in the prior year, since these statistics are based on 



The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1 970 to 1 990 I 29 









TABLE 7 








DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF ALL CENSUS AUTHORS, 




BY GENDER, 


RACE, AND ETHNICITY, 


1970 




ATTRIBUTE 


ALL 


MEN 


WOMEN 


WHITES 


BLACKS 


HISPANICS 


Age 


43.0 


42.6 


43.6 


43.1 


37.7 


38.6 


Education 


14.9 


14.9 


15.0 


14.9 


14.7 


13.8 


% WHO ARE: 














Married 


67.2 


74.0 


55.7 


67.8 


44.4 


71.4 


Head of 


68.6 


90.6 


31.7 


68.6 


74.1 


71.4 


Household 














Women 


37.3 





100.0 


37.2 


37.0 


21.4 


White 


97.3 


97.3 


97.2 


100.0 





100.0 


Black 


2.2 


2.2 


2.1 





100.0 





Other Race 


0.5 


0.5 


0.7 











Hispanic 


1.5 


1.8 


0.9 


1.5 





100.0 


Disabled 


8.1 


9.2 


6.0 


8.2 


5.0 


14.3 


Veteran 


37.0 


61.8 





37.2 


42.9 


— 


Immigrant 


5.2 


4.8 


6.0 


5.2 





21.4 


Non-Citizen 


2.0 


1.5 


2.9 


2.0 





21.4 


SOURCE: Authors 


tabulations from 


the 1970 Census 


PUMS. 













TABLE 8 








DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF ALL CENSUS AUTHORS, 




BY GENDER, RACE, AND ETHNICITY, 


1990 




ATTRIBUTE 


ALL 


MEN 


WOMEN 


WHITES 


BLACKS 


HISPANICS 


Age 


44.5 


46.2 


42.9 


42.0 


39.7 


36.4 


Education 


15.8 


16.0 


15.8 


16.0 


14.4 


15.1 


% WITH DEGREES: 












Bachelor's 


43.3 


41.0 


45.6 


43.7 


30.4 


41.8 


Master's 


21.1 


20.6 


21.5 


21.5 


11.9 


16.0 


Professional 


3.0 


3.9 


2.0 


3.0 


1.3 


3.7 


Doctor's 


6.4 


8.4 


4.3 


6.4 


1.9 


6.0 


% WHO ARE: 














Married 


57.3 


56.5 


58.2 


57.8 


40.8 


53.8 


Head of 


57.3 


76.0 


38.9 


57.7 


54.2 


44.3 


Household 














Women 


50.3 





100 


50.4 


48.4 


42.5 


White 


94.7 


94.6 


94.8 


100.0 





76.9 


Black 


2.9 


3.0 


2.8 





100.0 


3.6 


Other Race 


2.4 


2.4 


2.4 








19.5 


Hispanic 


1.2 


1.4 


1.0 


1.0 


1.5 


100.0 


Disabled 


8.3 


9.2 


7.4 


8.3 


5.4 


4.6 


Veteran 


17.2 


33.4 


1.2 


17.3 


21.2 


8.4 


Immigrant 


7.5 


8.4 


6.7 


6.4 


6.9 


45.0 


Non-Citizen 


3.3 


3.9 


2.7 


2.8 


2.9 


19.4 


SOURCE: Authors 


tabulations from the 


1990 Census 


PUMS. 







30 I Artists in the Work Force 









TABLE 9 






LABOR MARKET CHARACTERISTICS OF ALL CENSUS AUTHORS AND 


SELECTED REFERENCE GROUPS, 1970 (Med 


lians in Parentheses) 


ATTRIBUTE AUTHORS 


ARTISTS 


PROF/TECH 


EDITORS & 


TECHNICAL 








WORKERS 


REPORTERS 


WRITERS 


% WHO ARE: 












Employed 


78.7 


77.1 


79.5 


85.0 


NA 


Unemployed 


3.4 


3.6 


1.3 


2.8 


NA 


Not in Work Force 


17.9 


19.4 


19.1 


18.7 


NA 


Worked in 


85.4 


83.2 


82.5 


82.7 


NA 


Census Yr. 












Worked in 


91.1 


89.8 


88.4 


89.2 


NA 


Prior Year 












EMPLOYER: 












Private 


48.8 


68.5 


50.8 


84.5 


NA 


Government 


10.6 


9.2 


41.5 


7.7 


NA 


Self 


39.3 


21.7 


7.4 


73 


NA 


Full-Time* 


43.6 


40.4 


42.7 


47.8 


NA 


WORK TIME: 












Hours Worked* 


28.7 


27.3 


30.2 


28.9 


NA 




(37.0) 


(37.0) 


(40.0) 


(37.0) 




Weeks Worked* 


39.3 


36.8 


37.4 


38.9 


NA 




(51.0) 


(51.0) 


(51.0) 


(51.0) 




*1969. SOURCE: 


Authors' 


tabulations 


from the 1 970 Cens 


us PUMS. 









TABLE 10 






LABOR MARKET CHARACTERISTICS OF ALL CENSUS AUTHORS AND 


SELECTED REFERENCE GROUPS, 1990 (Medians in Parentheses) 


ATTRIBUTE AUTHORS 


ARTISTS 


PROF/TECH 


EDITORS & 


TECHNICAL 








WORKERS 


REPORTERS 


WRITERS 


% WHO ARE: 












Employed 


83.2 


80.9 


86.2 


85.2 


86.1 


Unemployed 


2.7 


4.1 


1.4 


3.0 


3.7 


Not in Work Force 


14.1 


15.0 


11.9 


11.8 


10.1 


Worked in 


88.4 


86.3 


89.1 


88.7 


88.6 


Census Year 












Worked in 


89.3 


91.9 


93.5 


93.8 


94.1 


Prior Year 












EMPLOYER: 












For Profit 


25.6 


54.9 


46.3 


73.1 


74.8 


Non Profit 


6.7 


6.9 


14.7 


9.2 


5.3 


Government 


8.3 


6.4 


31.4 


7.7 


11.0 


Self 


58.0 


31.0 


7.4 


9.6 


8.4 


Full-Time* 


39.7 


46.1 


55.6 


58.6 


64.8 


WORK TIME: 












Hours Worked* 


32.7 


34.4 


37.2 


36.7 


37.9 




(40.0) 


(40.0) 


(40.0) 


(40.0) 


(40.0) 


Weeks Worked* 


37.4 


39.1 


42.1 


42.3 


43.5 




(49.0) 


(50.0) 


(52.0) 


(52.0) 


(52.0) 


*1989 SOURCE 


: Authors' 


tabulations from the 1990 Census PUMS. 





The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1 970 to 1 990 I 31 



a calendar year's labor market experience. Also, for persons such as authors for whom 
moonlighting is common, the labor market data — especially the annual data — is 
likely to reflect time spent and experience in non-author jobs as well. 

A labor market snapshot of authors in 1990 shows that 2.7 percent experienced 
unemployment during the reference week and 14. 1 percent were neither working nor 
unemployed (out of the labor force). From 1970-90 authors had consistently lower 
rates of unemployment than all artists, but consistently higher rates (1.5 times 
greater) than other professional and technical workers. However, author 
unemployment rates over the 20-year period were roughly comparable to those of 
editors and reporters and technical writers, and in 1990 authors had lower rates. 4 
Since 1980 authors have been more likely to be found out of the labor force than 
either of these groups, and than other professional and technical workers in general. 

Regarding the frequency and duration of employment, in 1990, roughly the 
same percentage of authors as other professional and technical workers worked at 
some time during the Census year. A greater difference (3 percentage points) exists 
in the percentage actually working during the reference week, suggesting that 
relatively more authors drift in and out of employment in a given year than other 
professionals. 

In 1980 and 1990 authors worked fewer weeks and fewer hours per year than all 
artists, and fewer authors worked full-time year-round, due most likely to the much 
higher rates of self-employment in the author profession. However, this higher rate 
of self-employment for authors does not account for why other professional and 
technical workers continually experience less unemployment than authors. The 
difference in unemployment is more likely explained by these characteristics shared 
by other artists: Few or no entry barriers to the profession, less stability in existing 
jobs, frequent new jobs and assignments, changes in jobs and extended periods of no 
work. 

Among all Census authors in 1990, besides the 58 percent who reported self- 
employment, 8 percent reported working for government and 32 percent reported 
working for private sector employers. Authors differ from other professional and 
technical workers in their low percent of government employment. 

Authors in the experienced civilian labor force were found to have higher rates 
of both employment and unemployment rates than all Census authors. Members of 
the experienced civilian labor force by definition can only be working or 
unemployed; they cannot be out of the labor force. By contrast, all Census authors 
can be out of the labor force. In comparing all Census authors to full-time year- 
round authors, rates of unemployment and of absence from the labor force in the 
Census year are naturally lower among persons who worked full-time the entire 
previous year. However, full-time authors were less likely to be self-employed (46.1 
percent vs. 58.0 percent for all Census authors in 1990). The comparisons among 
authors by gender, race and ethnicity in Tables 1 1 and 12 generally reflect differences 
found in the labor force as a whole. Men were more likely to be employed than 
women, and less likely to be out of the labor force. A significantly higher percentage 
of men worked full-time in all three years (57.6 percent men versus 49.4 percent for 



32 I Artists in the Work Force 









TABLE 11 








LABOR MARKET CHARACTERISTICS OF ALL CENSUS AUTHORS, 


BY GENDER, 


RACE, 


AND ETHNICITY, 


1970 (Medians in Parentheses) 


ATTRIBUTE 


ALL 


MEN 


WOMEN 


WHITES 


BLACKS 


HISPANICS 


% WHO ARE: 














Employed 


78.7 


85.1 


67.9 


79.0 


70.4 


64.3 


Unemployed 


3.4 


3.9 


2.6 


3.4 





14.3 


Not in Work Force 


17.9 


10.9 


29.6 


17.5 


29.6 


21.4 


Worked in 


85.4 


90.3 


77.1 


85.4 


88.9 


83.8 


Census Year 














Worked in 


91.1 


96.1 


82.9 


91.1 


96.3 


71.4 


Previous Year 














EMPLOYER: 














Private 


48.8 


53.1 


41.5 


49.1 


37.0 


57.1 


Government 


10.6 


10.7 


10.5 


10.3 


22.2 


7.1 


Self 


39.3 


35.2 


46.0 


39.2 


40.7 


28.6 


Full-Time* 


43.6 


55.0 


24.4 


44.1 


33.3 


28.6 


WORK TIME: 














Hours Worked* 


28.7 


33.1 


21.4 


28.9 


26.0 


24.3 




(37.0) 


(40.0) 


(22.0) 


(40.0) 


(32.0) 


(34.5) 


Weeks Worked* 


39.3 


43.5 


32.1 


39.4 


39.9 


33.8 




(51.0) 


(51.0) 


(43.5) 


(51.0) 


(48.5) 


(47.2) 


*1969. SOURCE: 


Authors' 


tabulations from the 1970 Census PUMS. 







women in 1990). However, in 1980 and 1990 both black and Hispanic authors were 
more likely to be full-time than white authors. Also, in both years the percentages of 
blacks and Hispanic authors working for any level of government are two to three 
times those of whites. Most of this differential is made up by lower rates of self- 
employment among minority authors, as it is hard to imagine many full-time jobs in 
government as authors. This choice in turn may reflect greater difficulties among 
minorities in "making it" as full-time independent writers. 

Earnings of Authors 

This section examines how authors have fared economically over the 1970-90 
period. Earnings and other sources of income to authors are reported and compared 
to earnings of reference occupations. The term earnings refers to income from work 
effort, either in the form of wages and salaries or earnings from self-employment. 
Census data on earnings, as noted above, are attributed to one occupation — that 
which the respondent identifies as the "chief job activity or business last week." Thus 
this information does not distinguish earnings of authors received from writing or 
from earnings received in other lines of work. Surveys of authors discussed in the next 
section of this report consistently report that a low percentage of total earnings is 
derived from writing. 



The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1970 to 1990 I 33 









TABLE 12 








LABOR MARKET CHARACTERISTICS OF ALL CENSUS AUTHORS, 


BY GENDER, 


RACE, AND ETHNICITY, 1990 (Medians in Parentheses) 


ATTRIBUTE 


ALL 


MEN 


WOMEN 


WHITES 


BLACKS 


HISPANICS 


% WHO ARE: 














Employed 


83.2 


85.9 


80.5 


83.3 


81.0 


88.0 


Unemployed 


2.7 


2.9 


2.5 


2.6 


6.9 


2.5 


Not in Work Force 


14.1 


11.2 


16.9 


14.1 


12.1 


9.5 


Worked in 


88.4 


90.5 


86.4 


88.4 


89.5 


95.7 


Census Year 














Worked in 


89.3 


90.7 


88.0 


89.6 


85.4 


97.8 


Previous Year 














EMPLOYER: 














For Profit 


25.6 


25.9 


25.2 


25.3 


33.3 


26.6 


Non Profit 


6.7 


5.9 


7.4 


6.5 


8.7 


11.4 


Government 


8.3 


8.2 


8.4 


7.7 


21.1 


15.4 


Self 


58.0 


59.0 


57.1 


59.1 


35.2 


44.3 


Full-Time* 


49.4 


57.6 


41.3 


49.3 


52.7 


49.8 


WORK TIME: 














Hours Worked* 


32.7 


36.0 


29.5 


32.8 


32.5 


37.2 




(40.0) 


(40.0) 


(35.0) 


(40.0) 


(40.0) 


(50.0) 


Weeks Worked* 


37.4 


39.2 


35.6 


37.5 


35.8 


39.1 




(49.0) 


(50.0) 


(48.0) 


(49.0) 


(48.0) 


(40.0) 


*1989. SOURCE: 


Authors' 


tabulations from the 1990 Census PUMS. 





The Census provides separate categories for wages and salaries and self- 
employment. The latter category is further broken into non-farm and farm 
components. Only the non-farm component is reported here in self-employment 
earnings. For authors (and the reference groups discussed) farm earnings are minimal, 
and clearly cannot be from writing. Nevertheless, for the sake of completeness, total 
earnings reported include all wage, salary and self-employment earnings, including 
farm. s 

Successful authors may command earnings not only from writing, but may 
receive royalties from published work. Such royalties are included here in a category 
called asset income which also includes interest, dividend and net rental income. 
Asset income can only roughly measure actual royalty income received by authors. By 
comparison, little or no royalty income is earned by non-authors, so all else being 
equal, authors should receive greater amounts of asset income. 6 

A wage rate is also calculated and reported here. This is defined as total earnings 
from work divided by total hours worked. Several of the income entries from the 
1970 and 1980 Census that are reported in the tables below were calculated by the 
authors of this report. One of these — that of total earnings — was done out of 
necessity, because it was not a separate category until the 1990 Census. Two other 
calculations — of total personal income and total household income — were made to 
minimize the adverse effects of the Census practice of capping income categories to 



34 I Artists in the Work Force 



preserve anonymity. In 1990, for example, the Census capped each income category 
at different levels, which were determined by the earnings distribution in each 
category. Total personal income was capped at $284,000, but asset income was 
capped at $40,000. 

In Tables 13 and 14 the earnings and incomes of all Census authors are 
compared to all Census artists and other professional and technical workers over the 
1970-1990 period. The actual year in which earnings and incomes were recorded was 
the year prior to the Census, since all earnings and income data are annual averages. 

In Tables 13 through 16 mean (average) values are reported first. Median 
(midpoint) values are reported in parentheses below the mean values. Means, rather 
than medians, are discussed below because many of the categories reported on have 
more than half the sample reporting zero earnings. In such cases, the mean provides 
more useful information than the median, which is zero. A comparison of means and 
medians is helpful in interpreting some of the differences in earnings found among 
occupations. As one example, the ratio of the mean to the median is later used as a 
measure of earnings variability. 

In 1989, the average total earnings of all Census authors were $23,335. These 
earnings were about $2,100 more than the average earnings of all artists, but almost 
$4,800 less than the average earnings of all other professional and technical workers. 
Editors and reporters and technical writers also earned more than authors, by $1,600 
and $4,700 respectively. A higher percentage of authors' earnings was derived from 
self-employment than from the reference groups. 

Comparisons among occupational groups over the Census years reveal that only 
in 1969 did authors earn more than other professional and technical workers, and 
more than editors and reporters. Since 1979, the first year for which this information 
is available, technical writers have also earned more than authors. In all three years all 
artists' earnings were less than those of other professional and technical workers. In 
1979 only, artists' earnings were greater than authors' by about $200. 8 

Authors' earnings grew at a relatively slow rate (175 percent) between 1969 and 
1979, lagging behind those of the reference groups (205 percent for artists, 226 
percent for editors and reporters, and 261 percent for other professional and 
technical workers). Between 1979 and 1989, authors' earnings grew faster than those 
of the reference groups. 

These earnings increases may initially seem dramatic. However, most have not 
even kept pace with rising prices. After deflating earnings to allow for changes in the 
Consumer Price Index over this period, it is apparent that in constant 1969 dollars, 
authors' earnings fell from $8,743 in 1969 to $5,524 in 1979, and then rose to 
$6,906 in 1989. Thus in constant 1969 dollars authors' earnings fell by $1,567 over 
the 1969-1989 period. By comparison, all artists combined lost $684, editors and 
reporters lost $265, and other professional and technical workers gained $527 in real 
earnings during this time. 

Earnings data for authors in the experienced civilian labor force tell essentially 
the same story, ranking the same relative to those in the other occupations: first in 
1969, last in 1979, and lower than all but artists in 1989. 



The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1 970 to 1 990 I 35 







TABLE 13 






MEAN INCOME OF ALL CENSUS AUTHORS AND SELECTED 


REFERENCE GROUPS, 


1969 (Medians in Parentheses) 


TYPE OF 


AUTHORS 


ARTISTS 


PROF/TECH 


EDITORS & 


TECHNICAL 


INCOME 






WORKERS 


REPORTERS 


WRITERS 


Wage & Salary 


5,821 


5,533 


6,717 


7,148 


NA 




(2,800) 


(3,300) 


(6,100) 


(6,050) 




Self-Employment 


2,621 


1,428 


1,067 


476 


NA 




(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


(0) 




Total Earnings 


8,473 


6,968 


7,797 


7,638 


NA 




(7,500) 


(5,100) 


(6,900) 


(6,500) 




Asset Income 


1,194 


513 


548 


726 


NA 




(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


(0) 




Total Personal 


9,829 


7,611 


8,463 


8,491 


NA 




(8,100) 


(5,900) 


(7,100) 


(7,150) 




Total Household 


1 6,003 


13,247 


14,045 


14,789 


NA 




(13,100) 


(11,600) 


(12,500) 


(12,600) 




Hourly Wage 


5.19 


4.55 


4.30 


5.06 


NA 




(3.79) 


(3.05) 


(3.60) 


(3.44) 




% Below 


6.3% 


6.6% 


4.3% 


4.3% 


NA 


Poverty Line 












SOURCE: Authors 


' tabulations 


from the 1 


970 Census PUMS. 











TABLE 14 






MEAN INCOME OF ALL CENSUS AUTHORS AND SELECTED 


REFERENCE GROUPS, 


1989 (Medians 


in Parentheses) 


TYPE OF 


AUTHORS 


ARTISTS 


PROF/TECH 


EDITORS & 


TECHNICAL 


INCOME 






WORKERS 


REPORTERS 


WRITERS 


Wage & Salary 


15,251 


16,781 


25,751 


23,292 


26,157 




(966) 


(9,102) 


(22,000) 


(19,345) 


(26,000) 


Self-Employment 


8,039 


4,411 


2,341 


1,596 


1,878 




(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


Total Earnings 


23,335 


21,233 


28,126 


24,912 


28,044 




(13,000) 


(15,000) 


(23,558) 


(20,000) 


(27,00) 


Asset Income 


4,066 


1,654 


1,475 


1,894 


1,494 




(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


(10) 


Total Personal 


30,089 


24,077 


30,965 


27,936 


31,425 




(20,500) 


(17,116) 


(25,000) 


(22,306) 


(29,204) 


Total Household 


62,083 


52,165 


56,952 


55,352 


56,397 




(49,251) 


(43,000) 


(49,020) 


(46,000) 


(50,537) 


Hourly Wage 


28.08 


17.06 


17.13 


14.07 


16.35 




(10.00) 


(9.61) 


(12.50) 


(10.82) 


(13.90) 


% Below 


8.4% 


9.1% 


5.2% 


7.4% 


3.0% 


Poverty Line 












SOURCE: Author; 


>' tabulations from the 1990 Census PUMS 







36 I Artists in the Work Force 



The earnings of full-time year-round authors in 1989 were $35,896, or about 
$12,500 more than the earnings of all Census authors, ranking first among the 
reference occupations in 1969 and last in 1979. In 1989, authors earned more than 
all artists, and than editors and reporters and technical writers. In real 1970 dollars, 
earnings of full-time authors fell by $1,433, artists' earnings fell by $1,604, editors 
and reporters' earnings fell by $1,121, and those of other professional and technical 
workers fell by $525. 

The hourly wages reported in Tables 13 through 16 are constructed by dividing 
total earnings by hours worked. A comparison of these wages across the occupational 
categories for all Census members shows that authors had the highest hourly wage in 
all three Census years. In 1989, the author average hourly wage was roughly $10 
more than that of other professional workers. This is mainly because authors spent 
considerably fewer hours working than did the other professionals. In addition, a 
number of authors worked relatively few hours per year, but were very well 
compensated for their work. In two of three Census years, the wages of all Census 
authors were higher than the wages of experienced civilian labor force authors. Also, 
in general the wages of all Census or experienced labor force authors were higher than 
those of full-time year-round authors. 

Variability in Authors' Earnings 

In every Census year, authors had a higher percentage of persons with zero (or 
negative) earnings than people in other comparable occupations. On the other end 
of the spectrum, Census evidence from 1970-90 shows that a higher percentage of 
authors had earnings at the maximum level (the level at which the Census assigns 
persons the same value regardless of actual income or earnings). Also, a higher 
percentage of authors had asset income (and income from all sources) at the 
maximum than any other occupational group. 

An examination of earnings variability data for authors and reference groups in 
the experienced civilian labor force shows the same relative outcomes. Naturally, 
fewer workers are found with zero earnings and more are found at the earnings 
maximum in each year. A higher percentage of authors again appears at both the low 
and high ends of the earnings spectrum compared to the reference groups. 

With full-time, year-round workers, the percentages of persons with zero 
earnings shrink considerably, while high percentages of persons have earnings at the 
maximum. There are minimal changes in the rankings by occupational group. 

Another statistic that highlights the concentration of persons at the low end of 
the income spectrum is the percentage of members in an occupation with household 
or individual incomes below the poverty line. 9 The poverty status of all Census 
authors and members of occupational reference groups is found in Tables 13 and 14. 
Income counted toward poverty status is from all sources, including other family 
members, and thus includes more than earnings. This statistic also measures the 
concentration of poverty in different groups. 

Poverty rates of all Census authors, and of artists in general, are higher than those 



The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1 970 to 1 990 I 37 



of editors and reporters, technical writers and all other professional and technical 
workers combined. Poverty rates fall for experienced labor force workers, and fall 
further for full-time, year-round workers. What does not change is the relative 
ranking of occupations within each category. Authors and all artists have the highest 
incidence of poverty, regardless of the labor force definition employed. This finding 
is particularly notable given that authors had the highest household incomes of all 
the occupational groups. 

Why are the earnings of authors subject to such variability? As mentioned earlier, 
authors, among other artists, work fewer hours in a year and experience greater 
variability in those hours worked. When one considers the career of authors and of 
many other artists, one sees persons who move among projects or employers. 
Compensation may differ greatly from move to move. A best-selling book may be 
followed by one which does not sell. Rarely is there a long-term contractual 
relationship with a steady employer with compensation rising gradually every year, as 
there is in many other occupations. Alternative explanations exist, as put forth in the 
introduction to this report. Artists, including authors, are often risk-takers and 
gamble on the chance of becoming famous and wealthy through their occupation. 
Then also, "psychic income" may figure in, where persons will accept lower 
compensation because of the satisfaction their occupation provides in itself. Reality 
may lie in a mixture of these explanations. 

Other Sources of Income 

Total personal income — the sum of all income sources, including earnings — 
shows an improved status for authors when ranked against reference groups. In 1969, 
authors' personal income ranked first, as did authors' earnings. In 1979 and 1989, 
authors' personal income ranked third. The main reason for their improved status in 
the personal income rankings is the greater amounts of asset income authors receive, 
including royalties and income from property. Royalties are hypothesized to be the 
main difference in boosting authors' personal income; their asset income is from two 
to four times larger than the reference groups. Nevertheless, asset income averages 
only about one-fifth of total earnings for authors. 

The total personal incomes of authors in the experienced civilian labor force rank 
the same in each year relative to the reference groups. Among full-time, year-round 
workers, authors' relative ranking in personal incomes is similar to those noted above, 
except that their personal incomes placed them first in 1989 as well as in 1969. 

The personal incomes of authors and most of the reference groups failed to keep 
pace with inflation from 1969 to 1989. All Census authors, for example, suffered a 
loss of $924 in real total personal income over this period. Authors in the experienced 
civilian labor force and full-time year-round authors also lost purchasing power over 
this period, by roughly the same amount. 

The financial status of authors shows improvement when one moves from 
earnings to total personal income to total household income. Tables 13 and 14 show 
that authors rank first in total household income each Census year. 



38 I Artists in the Work Force 



The primary contributor to household incomes other than the professionals 
described here clearly is the spouse or partner, when one is present. Why do authors 
have spouses who contribute more to household income than do members of other 
professions? One possibility is that authors, with their higher educational levels, 
might attract better educated spouses with higher earnings. 

Authors in the experienced civilian labor force continue to rank first in total 
household income. The picture changes only slightly when full-time year-round 
authors are examined. Their household income places them first in 1969 and 1989, 
and second in 1979. 

Regarding the effects of inflation, household income increases experienced by all 
occupational groups surveyed kept them ahead of inflation. All Census authors saw 
real household incomes rise by $2,370 over the 1969-89 period, with reference 
groups seeing comparable gains. This general conclusion held true for experienced 
civilian force and full-time year-round counterparts in each occupational group. The 
basic reason household incomes kept ahead of inflation is the increasing labor force 
participation of women over the same period, so more family members were in the 
labor force. 

Earnings and Income by Gender, Race and Ethnicity 

Tables 15 and 16 summarize information about authors' earnings and income by 
gender and race. Men dominated all personal earnings, income and wage categories 
in all three Census years. Women's annual earnings as a percentage of men's increased 
from 42.8 percent in 1969 to 47.1 percent in 1979 to 52.5 percent in 1989. Women's 
calculated hourly wage, measured as a percentage of men's, increased from 58.2 
percent in 1969 to 82.0 percent in 1979, but fell dramatically to 40.4 percent in 
1989. The wage disparity in 1989 is especially noteworthy. The high hourly wage 
earners referred to above are mostly men, whose mean wage in 1989 of $40 is $24 
higher than the women's. However the men's median wage of $12 is less than $4 
higher than the women's median. 

In absolute dollar terms, differences in total personal incomes between men and 
women authors are larger than differences in earnings. In 1979 and 1989 men earned 
more asset income. However, women authors had greater household income — less 
than $1 ,000 more than men — in all three Census years. While the household income 
of men authors is about one-third greater than their personal income, the household 
income of women authors is about two-thirds greater. Authors in general marry well, 
but women authors particularly find successful spouses. 

Less overall disparity exists among earnings of members of different races and 
ethnic backgrounds. In general, white earnings are higher than those of blacks and 
Hispanics, but percentage earnings differentials are narrower than those between the 
sexes, and show no consistent trends. Black authors' earnings were between 80 and 
90 percent of white authors' earnings, with the highest ratio in 1969. Hispanic 
authors' earnings were between 64 and 115 percent of white authors' earnings, with 
the highest ratio in 1979. Hourly wages showed similar small gaps in 1969 and 1979. 



The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1 970 to 1 990 I 39 









TABLE 15 










MEAN INCOMES OF ALL CENSUS AUTHORS, 




BY GENDER, RACE 


, AND ETHNICITY, 1969 (Medi 


ans in Parentheses) 


ATTRIBUTE 


ALL 


MEN 


WOMEN 


WHITES 


BLACKS 


HISPANICS 


Wage & Salary 


5,821 


7,567 


2,882 


5,837 


5,878 


4,921 




(2,800) 


(7,950) 


(0) 


(2,700) 


(4,000) 


(5,500) 


Self-Employment 


2,621 


3,154 


1,726 


2,655 


1,781 


543 




(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


Total Earnings 


8,473 


10,768 


4,610 


8,524 


7,659 


5,464 




(7,500) 


(10,000) 


(2,500) 


(7,500) 


(8,000) 


(6,000) 


Asset Income 


1,194 


1,196 


1,191 


1,215 


396 


43 




(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


Total Personal 


9,829 


12,121 


5,972 


9,900 


8,214 


5,536 




(8,100) 


(10,300) 


(3,900) 


(8,200) 


(8,000) 


(6,100) 


Total Household 


16,003 


15,307 


17,164 


16,178 


10,393 


9,621 




(13,100) 


(13,000) 


(14,000) 


(13,300) 


(8,700) 


(9,600) 


Hourly Wage 


5.19 


6.15 


3.58 


5.20 


5.26 


3.70 




(3.79) 


(4.90) 


(1.03) 


(3.74) 


(4.18) 


(3.23) 


% Below 


6.3% 


5.3% 


7.9% 


6.2% 


3.7% 


0.0% 


Poverty Line 














SOURCE: Authors' tabulations from the 


! 1970 Census 


PUMS. 













TABLE 16 










MEAN INCOMES OF ALL CENSUS AUTHORS, 




BY GENDER, RACE, AND ETHNICITY, 1989 (Med 


ans in Parentheses) 


ATTRIBUTE 


ALL 


MEN 


WOMEN 


WHITES 


BLACKS 


HISPANICS 


Wage & Salary 


15,251 


20,465 


10,101 


15,235 


17,068 


13,833 




(966) 


(2,300) 


(200) 


(700) 


(10,000) 


(5,000) 


Self-Employment 


8,039 


10,154 


5,951 


8,274 


4,157 


6,671 




(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


Total Earnings 


23,335 


30,663 


16,099 


23,553 


21,337 


20,504 




(13,000) 


(20,000) 


(9,000) 


(13,000) 


(17,000) 


(13,000) 


Asset Income 


4,066 


5,067 


3,077 


4,215 


1,128 


1,727 




(0) 


(62) 


(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


Total Personal 


30,089 


39,612 


20,685 


30,475 


25,760 


24,401 




(20,500) 


(28,900) 


(15,000) 


(20,883) 


(19,000) 


(18,000) 


Total Household 


62,083 


61,222 


62,934 


62,811 


46,732 


55,642 




(49,251) 


(48,400) 


(49,905) 


(49,992) 


(34,778) 


(38,000) 


Hourly Wage 


28.08 


40.10 


16.22 


28.68 


16.43 


13.46 




(10.00) 


(11.99) 


(8.40) 


(10.00) 


(9.14) 


(11.05) 


% Below 


8.4% 


9.4% 


7.4% 


7.8% 


22.5% 


1 1 .3% 


Poverty Line 














SOURCE: Authors' tabulations from the 


! 1990 Census 


PUMS. 







40 I Artists in the Work Force 



In 1989, however, the gap widened dramatically. Typically, larger disparities existed 
between the personal and household incomes of whites versus blacks and Hispanics, 
than between men and women authors. 

The calculated mean wages of men authors and white authors more than 
doubled between 1979 and 1989, and significantly outpaced the growth in women 
and all minority wages. There was no comparable explosion in median wages for men 
and whites. Thus the growth in mean wages was driven by the success of a limited 
number of white men in securing very high hourly compensation for their output. 
In a similar vein, there was no explosion in the earnings of whites and men in 1989. 
The high mean wages reflect high hourly compensation, not high total 
compensation. 

As discussed above, poverty levels are based on household incomes, and not just 
earnings. In 1979 and 1989, the poverty rates of men authors were higher than those 
of women. Similarly, in the same two Census years, the poverty rates of white authors 
was lower than those of black and Hispanic authors, by wide margins. In 1969, 
women authors had a higher incidence of poverty than men authors, despite having 
higher household incomes. Also, in 1969 white authors had a higher incidence of 
poverty than black and Hispanic authors, despite having higher household incomes. 
The unusual distribution of poverty incidence among ethnic groups in 1969 may 
partly be attributable to small samples of black and Hispanic authors in that Census. 

Why Authors' Earnings Differ from Those of Other Artists 

There is little evidence that being an author per se increases one's earnings above 
those of other artists. A better explanation of authors' earnings lies in the importance 
of the human capital variables. Recall that authors were consistently older and better 
educated, and were more likely to be white, married and the heads of households. All 
of these traits are positively correlated with earnings. Although some traits of authors 
(such as more likely to be a woman and to be self-employed) predict lower earnings, 
on balance, a human capital interpretation of differences in artists' endowments of 
human capital would predict higher earnings for authors than for most other artist 
groups. 

One might also expect authors to have the strongest verbal and writing skills of 
any artist occupation. Though not measured by the Census, these traits are correlated 
with job success as well. There is considerable evidence that the majority of the 
earnings of authors is not from writing. Thus it may be true that authors' verbal 
abilities enhanced their earnings in other occupations more than any general human 
capital skills possessed by other artists. 

Authors in the U. S. and Elsewhere 

This section continues to explore the economic condition of writers over the 
period 1970 to 1990. It differs from the previous chapter because it does not use data 
from the U.S. decennial censuses. The Census, while complete in such important 



The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1 970 to 1 990 I 41 



dimensions as coverage of the population, is weak in describing the complexities of 
the labor market experiences and income generating opportunities utilized by writers 
and other artists. 

Multiple job holding among writers will first be examined, using the Census' 
close cousin, the Current Population Survey. Then information will be provided on 
a number of issues relevant to the writers' socioeconomic condition, utilizing data 
from a variety of surveys and studies. Last will come a brief comparison of the U.S. 
writers' socioeconomic condition to writers in several other countries. 

Current Population Survey 

Multiple job holding is a characteristic of writers' and artists' labor market 
behavior that somewhat sets them apart from most other workers. Generally the 
term, multiple job holding, suggests that more than one job is held concurrently, but 
the data does not always confirm this. 

The Current Population Survey (CPS) interviews approximately 60,000 
households annually. 10 Since artists are such a small proportion of the overall labor 
force, just over one percent, and with writers being only six percent of all artists, the 
accuracy of the CPS estimates as they relate to artists and writers is of concern. What 
could appear as considerable change in the behavior of writers nationwide might 
result from the change in the actions of a single writer in the sample. 11 However, the 
CPS does provide an important supplement to the census information. 

Overall the multiple job holding rate in the U.S., calculated from the CPS, has 
shown a general upward trend, though it fluctuates with changes in economic 
conditions. In 1989 it was 6.2 percent. 12 The CPS indicates that multiple job 
holding is more common among artists and writers than other comparably trained 
workers. Eliminating those artists whose employment behavior is more like that of 
other professional workers than it is like an artist's (architects, designers and 
photographers), then the multiple job holding rate for artists was 13.7 in 1991. In 
both 1989 and 1991 the rates for writers were approximately 20 percent, the highest 
rates among the artist occupations, except for that of those artists whose primary job 
was teaching art at the post-secondary level. (Table 17) 

Table 18 shows secondary occupations for individuals whose primary occupation 
was that of author. According to the CPS, the majority of these secondary jobs were 
in other professional occupations. In both 1989 and 1991 teaching something other 
than writing at a college or university was the most common second job for writers. 
Table 19 shows primary occupations for those whose secondary job was that of 
author. Not surprisingly, these primary jobs were in professional occupations, with a 
significant proportion of them being managerial. 

Several characteristics of writers seem to be associated with multiple job holding. 
In 1985 and 1989, writers with second jobs were more likely to be male than writers 
who held only one job. The opposite was true in 1991. Writers who held second jobs 
averaged 10 years younger than those who did not, suggesting that multiple job 
holding is more common among the new entrants into the writing occupation. 



42 I Artists in the Work Force 



TABLE 17 






CURRENT POPULATION SURVEY - MULTIPLE JOB HOLDING RATES: 


1985, 1989, 1991 (Percent) 






1985 


1989 


1991 


Authors 7.8 


20.7 


21.3 


Actors 


18.8 


14.4 


Announcers 6.5 


22.8 


14.8 


Architects 9.5 


8.3 


6.2 


Art Teachers (post-secondary) 29.3 


26.3 


24.9 


Dancers 


11.1 





Designers 5.6 


5.6 


9.0 


Musicians 12.1 


6.5 


17.1 


Painters 16.8 


13.0 


7.1 


Photographers 1 1 .3 


11.3 


5.6 


Artists NEC 14.5 


8.8 


11.0 


All Artists 9.8 


10.2 


10.7 


Other Professionals 6.9 


9.0 


8.2 


Source: Authors' tabulations and calculations from Current Population St 


jrveys 


for May 1985, 1989 and 1991. 











TABLE 18 






CURRENT POPULATION SURVEY 


- AUTHOR'S SECONDARY 


OCCUPATIONS: 


1985, 1989, 1991 (Percent) 










1985 


1989 


1991 


Author 






31.8 




9.2 


Actor 








7.8 




Art Teacher (College) 
Designer 
Photographer 
College Teacher 
Other Teacher 






35.0 


15.2 
13.3 

26.2 


25.7 
14.1 


Other Writers 










16.9 


Other Professional 








17.2 


8.9 


Sales 








7.9 




Technicians 








12.5 


10.4 


Operative 
Farmer 






33.3 




14.9 


Source: Authors' tabu 


lations and calculations from Current Popi 


ilation 


Surveys for May 1985, 


1989 and 1991. 









The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1970 to 1990 I 43 



It is interesting to note that about one- third of the artistic occupations to be held 
as a second job was that of musician. Writers, on the other hand, accounted for only 
about seven percent of the secondary artistic employment in 1985 and 1991, and 
almost thirteen percent in 1989. 





TABLE 19 






CURRENT POPULATION SURVEY - AUTHOR'S PRIMARY 




OCCUPATIONS: 


1985, 1989, 1991 (Percent) 






1985 


1989 


1991 


Author 


7.3 




6.9 


Designer 




3.5 




College Teacher 


13.6 


16.0 




Other Teacher 


11.5 


8.3 


8.7 


Other Writers 


7.6 


11.7 


34.6 


Other Professional 


3.5 


22.0 


4.4 


Managerial 


13.8 


20.3 


31.9 


Administrative (non-clerical) 




5.1 




Sales 


17.5 






Technicians 


9.9 






Clerical 


7.0 


11.0 


13.6 


Operative 




2.2 




Service 


8.2 






Source: Authors' tabulations and calculations from Current Population Su 


rveys 


for May 1985, 1989 and 1991. 









Non-Census Surveys 



Sources of information about authors other than national censuses are special 
studies which fall into three categories. One category includes studies based on 
general surveys of artists where a broad range of artistic occupations is targeted. A 
second category includes studies based on specialized surveys of a single artistic 
occupation such as authors. A third category is information provided by artists to a 
professional organization or union and retrieved from an organizations 
administrative records. 

First of the two general artist surveys to be examined is the Alper- Wassail Survey 
(AW) of artists in New England. 13 The second will be the Joan Jeffri survey 
undertaken by Columbia University's Research Center for Arts and Culture 14 of ten 
U.S. locations, incorporating eight cities and two non-urban areas (RCAC). Both 
studies were undertaken in the 1980s. 

Next to be discussed is a survey explicitly designed for authors, the Kingston- 
Cole study, 15 done by Columbia University's Center for the Social Sciences for the 
Authors Guild Foundation. This study draws heavily on the definition of an author 



44 I Artists in the Work Force 



established by the Guild. This means that those included in the study were book 
authors whose work had been published. This study, while undertaken in the early 
1980s, refers to the situation of writers in the late 1970s. 

Last to be examined is information from three Writers Guild of America, west 
(WGA) studies of writers in Hollywood. 16 Utilizing administrative records, the WGA 
reports provide a detailed, but limited, description of writers in the motion picture, 
television and radio industries. They are necessarily limited to the information the 
WGA maintains on its members and to what the members are required to report to 
the WGA. One of its strengths is that with readily available administrative data, 
several reports covering 1982 through 1991 could be prepared, providing a 
longitudinal study not available from any other source. 

Alper-Wassall Survey 

The AJper- Wassail New England Survey studied artists in the six New England 
states in 1981 and 1982. Authors comprised 12.1 percent of the sample. In 
comparison, authors comprised 4 percent of artists in the 1980 census. Based on a 
system of self-identification, 62.4 percent of the authors were "writers," 32.0 percent 
were "poets" and 5.5 percent were "playwrights" and other creative writers. 

Table 20 highlights the demographic characteristics of the New England authors 
and compares them with other regional artists. Authors average about 43.5 years in 







TABLE 20 






SOCIO-ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS OF NEW ENGLAND 


AUTHORS, PERFORMERS, AND VISUAL ARTISTS 






Authors 


Performers 


Visual Artists 


All Artists 


Age 


43.4 


39.3 


39.7 


40.0 


Education 


17.3 


16.8 


16.6 


16.7 


Degree (%) 
High School 


8.5 


16.0 


15.9 


15.0 


Associates 


2.4 


1.8 


3.9 


3.1 


Bachelors 


33.2 


41.1 


44.0 


41.8 


Masters 


39.3 


34.9 


32.9 


34.3 


Doctorate 


15.8 


5.4 


2.0 


4.6 


Artistic 
Training (Age) 

% Who Are 


16.2 


11.1 


16.8 


15.1 


Married 


68.4 


65.8 


71.7 


69.0 


Women 


50.5 


41.2 


55.8 


51.2 


White 


97.3 


97.2 


96.4 


96.7 


Black 


0.8 


1.5 


1.4 


1.4 


Other Race 


1.9 


1.4 


2.2 


1.9 


Hispanic 
Veteran 


0.6 
19.7 


1.8 
18.2 


2.0 
14.4 


1.8 
16.0 


Source: Authors' 


tabulations and 


calculations from Alper-Wassall's study of New 


England artists. 











The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1 970 to 1 990 I 45 



age, contrasted to 40 years average age for other artists. Authors are better educated, 
with three times more holding doctorates than all artists. Writers were not likely to 
attend specialized arts schools, and relatively unlikely even to major in their field 
through their undergraduate education. 

Authors do not dramatically differ from other New England artists regarding 
marital status and racial distribution, but slightly more than half the authors are 
female, unlike performing artists, but more like visual artists. 

Alper- Wassail identified three separate labor markets that authors, and all artists, 
were likely to participate in. One was the market for their art work. A second was 
working in a job related to the arts, including teaching their art and arts 
administration. The third was working in a job completely unrelated to the 
production of their art work — the proverbial taxi driver or waiter, for example. 

Every author in the study spent some time during the year writing, but only 
about one in five were full-time writers, (see Table 21). Authors averaged about 33 
weeks of the year working as authors, about the same time spent by the other artists 
in the production of their art. Like their artistic peers, most authors with arts related 
jobs (almost 75 percent) were involved in teaching their art at some level. Alper- 
Wassall found that one in five authors were unemployed at some time during the 
year, averaging 13 weeks out of work. 

Almost 45 percent of the authors in this survey held a job unrelated to their 
writing with about one-fourth of these jobs in non-teaching professional 







TABLE 21 






LABOR MARKET CHARACTERISTICS OF NEW ENGLAND AUTHORS, 


PERFORMERS, 


AND VISUAL ARTISTS 1981 




Authors 


Performers 


Visual Artists 


All Artists 


Unemployed (%) 


20.4 


28.4 


17.5 


20.9 


Times Unemployed 


7.0 


6.6 


7.2 


7.0 


Weeks Unemployed 


12.9 


13.5 


13.6 


13.5 


Arts-Related Job (%) 


52.0 


64.6 


48.8 


53.9 


Non-Arts Related 


43.9 


35.2 


35.6 


36.6 


Job (%) 










Full-Time Artist (%) 


22.1 


21.4 


39.9 


32.0 


Artistic Hours 


26.6 


30.7 


35.2 


32.8 


Worked per Week 










Weeks 










Worked 


45.9 


44.8 


46.5 


45.9 


Weeks Worked 


33.2 


31.2 


38.7 


35.8 


as Artist 










Weeks Worked in 


16.5 


24.2 


14.4 


17.5 


Arts-Related Job 










Weeks Worked in 


15.3 


11.7 


11.5 


12.0 


Non-Arts Related Job 










Source: Authors' tab 


ulations and 


calculations frorr 


Alper-Wassall's 


study of New 


England artists. 











46 I Artists in the Work Force 



occupations. Approximately 1 5 percent held teaching jobs not related to their writing 
and another 10 percent were employed in food service type jobs. Often working at 
two or more jobs at a time, authors spent approximately the same number of weeks 
working as writers as in work related to writing and unrelated work combined. They 
appeared to earn more per hour from their non-writing work. 

Table 22 details the authors' employment experiences as reflected in their 
earnings and total income. Authors' total income, which included earnings from 
their various jobs and such non-labor income as rent, interest and dividends, was 
$17,126 in 1981 dollars, about 10 percent higher than that of all New England 
artists. It is not clear from this study where authors would have included any royalty 
income they might have received. 







TABLE 22 






MEAN ANNUAL INCOMES OF NEW ENGLAND AUTHORS, 


PERFORMERS AND VISUAL ARTISTS, 1981 (Medians in 


Parentheses) 




Authors 


Performers 


Visual Artists 


All Artists 


Arts Earnings 


4,271 


7,527 


6,351 


6,327 




(191) 


(2,513) 


(1,400) 


(1,374) 


Arts-Related 


5,737 


5,568 


3,721 


4,552 


Earnings 


(0) 


(831) 


(0) 


(0) 


Non-arts 


4,134 


2,939 


2,535 


2,841 


Related Earnings 


(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


Total Earnings 


14,771 


16,383 


12,938 


14,116 




(10,349) 


(13,000) 


(9,185) 


(10,420) 


Non-labor Income 


2,270 


1,245 


1,466 


1,504 




(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


(0) 


Artist's Total 


17,126 


17,512 


14,433 


15,626 


Income 


(12,090) 


(13,600) 


(10,568) 


(11,700) 


Total Household 


29,526 


27,373 


26,801 


27,233 


Income 


(25,000) 


(21,981) 


(21,000) 


(21,981) 


Net Arts Earnings 


2,286 


4,831 


1,907 


2,721 




(-221) 


(896) 


(-167) 


(-50) 


Net Total 


7,980 


10,474 


5,795 


7,368 


Artistic Earnings 


(1,273) 


(6,154) 


(2,273) 


(3,100) 


Net Total 


10,375 


11,767 


7,352 


8,963 


Artist's Earnings 


(3,940) 


(7,885) 


(3,532) 


(4,600) 


Net Total 


14,633 


14,741 


10,088 


11,980 


Artist's Income 


(9,910) 


(10,985) 


(7,132) 


(8,757) 


Source: Authors' tabulations and 


calculations from Alpe 


r-Wassall's study of New England 


artists. 











Authors, like most artists, incur significant costs in order to produce their 
writing. New England authors incurred costs of about $2,000 in 1981. The impact 
on their earnings from writing was that authors' earnings net of costs were slightly 
more than half their gross earnings from writing. 

The hourly wage rate for the time authors spent writing was estimated to be 
$2.62, less than 80 percent of the federally legislated minimum wage in 1981 which 
was $3.35. The authors' estimated wage rate from the 1980 Census was almost $13, 
but it reflected earnings from all the jobs held and not simply from working as a 



The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1970 to 1990 I 47 



writer. Weekly earnings from all jobs worked, which clearly do not correct for 
differences in the hours worked per week, showed authors were above average 
compared to other artists. 

However the author works — as an employee, self-employed or free-lance — he or 
she must learn about employment and writing opportunities, or must know how to 
market his/her work. More than half the authors studied by Alper- Wassail found 
writing jobs through friends and relatives. Networking through former business 
associates was a method utilized by almost half the authors in searching for a job. Of 
course, multiple methods are used in job searches at various times. For authors in 
New England these included advertisements, booking agents, private employment 
agencies, public employment offices, student placement offices, and "other." 

The marketing methods most commonly used by New England authors were 
agents, consignment in showroom or shop, shows and fairs, advertisements, own 
showroom or shop and "other." 

Table 23 highlights some demographic differences between male and female 
authors and their artistic colleagues in New England, while Table 24 examines the 
labor market characteristics of these authors and their fellow artists. These findings 
are summarized briefly here: 









TABLE 23 










SOCIO-ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS OF NEW ENGLAND 


AUTHORS 


i, PERFORMERS, AND VISUAL ARTISTS: BY GENDER 




Authors 


Performers 


Visual Artists 


All Artists 




Male 


Female 


Male 


Female 


Male 


Female 


Male 


Female 


Age 


43.4 


43.5 


40.2 


38.1 


41 


38.7 


41.1 


39.1 


Education 


17.6 


17.1 


16.7 


16.9 


16.6 


16.6 


16.7 


16.7 


Degree (%) 


















High School 


8.7 


8.5 


18.2 


12.8 


18.6 


13.9 


17.5 


12.9 


Associates 


1.1 


3.7 


1.9 


1.8 


2.8 


4.9 


2.2 


4.1 


Bachelors 


31.4 


34.6 


38.3 


45.1 


37.4 


48.8 


36.7 


46.4 


Masters 


37.3 


41.5 


33.1 


37.4 


35.8 


30.8 


35.1 


33.7 


Doctorate 


20.5 


11.2 


7.7 


2 


3.1 


1.2 


6.9 


2.5 


Artistic 


15.8 


16.6 


11.8 


10.3 


17.5 


16.2 


15.3 


14.8 


Training (Age) 


















% Who Are 


















Married 


69.2 


67.7 


69.6 


60.3 


73.3 


70.4 


71.6 


67.6 


White 


97.8 


96.8 


97 


97.3 


95.3 


97.3 


96.2 


97 


Black 





1.6 


1.7 


1.2 


2.3 


0.7 


1.8 


1 


Other Race 


2.3 


1.9 


0.8 


1.2 


1.9 


1.7 


1.6 


1.5 


Hispanic 


1.1 





1.9 


1.5 


2.5 


1.6 


2.1 


1.5 


Source: Authors' 


tabulations and 


calcul, 


ations from Alper 


-Wassail' 


s study 


of 


New England artists. 

















Male and female writers were found to be essentially the same age. Female writers 
had less formal education than males, with male writers more than twice as likely to 
have a doctoral degree. The proportion of male and female authors married or living 
with someone who shared income and expenses was much the same as was the 



48 I Artists in the Work Force 



proportion of each gender in minority groups. In general women writers did not do 
as well in the labor market and were more likely to be unemployed during the year. 
Female writers were half as likely to be full-time writers as their male colleagues, and 
were found to work less time per year than male writers. 

Differences in earnings for authors in this study are available, but not detailed 
here. Generally, women authors earned about 18 percent of what male writers earned 
from writing on an annual basis, but fared better with regard to other earnings. 
Overall, though, the female writers' annual earnings from all sources were half their 
male colleagues, while their total weekly earnings were 63 percent of what male 
writers earned. Female writers' household income was only slight lower, 3 percent, 
than that of male writers. Most authors who held writing-related jobs taught at some 
level, with more men teaching at the college level. Male writers also were seven times 
more likely to work in managerial and executive jobs. Female writers were about 
seven times more likely to hold clerical jobs, while male writers were about five times 
more likely to hold operative and laborer jobs, a pattern consistent with that observed 
in the general population. 









TABLE 24 










LABOR MARKET CHARACTERISTICS OF NEW ENGLAND AUTHORS, 


PERFORMERS 


, AND VISUAL ARTISTS BY GENDER 1981 






Authors 


Performers 


Visual Artists 


All Artists 




Male 


Female 


Male 


Female 


Male 


Female 


Male 


Female 


Unemployed (%) 


18 


22.5 


25.7 


32 


15.4 


19.3 


19 


22.6 


Times 


7 


6.9 


6.7 


6.4 


7.2 


7.1 


7 


6.9 


Unemployed 


















Weeks 


13.6 


12.2 


12 


15.3 


14.2 


13.2 


13.1 


13.7 


Unemployed 


















Arts-Related 


49.5 


54.2 


61.4 


69.1 


46.6 


50.6 


52.2 


55.5 


Job (%) 


















Non-Arts 


43.5 


43.9 


34.8 


36 


34.7 


36.4 


35.9 


37.4 


Related Job (%) 


















Full-Time 


29.1 


15 


25.3 


16 


48.3 


33.4 


37.6 


26.8 


Artist (%) 


















Artistic Hours 


28.5 


24.8 


32.2 


28.9 


38.7 


32.6 


35.1 


30.7 


Worked per Week 


















Weeks Worked: 


















Overall 


47.8 


44.1 


46.9 


41.8 


48.2 


45 


47.7 


44.2 


Artist 


36.2 


30.5 


34.7 


26.3 


41.3 


36.5 


38.3 


33.3 


Arts-Related 


















Job 


17.2 


15.9 


24 


24.4 


14 


14.9 


17.9 


17.3 


Non-Arts 


















Related Job 


16.3 


14.3 


11.8 


11.5 


11.7 


11.4 


12.3 


11.8 


Source: Authors' tabi 


jlations and calculations from Alper- Wassail's stu 


dy of New E 


ngland artists. 



Columbia University's Research Center Arts and Culture Survey 

Another general survey of artists undertaken by Columbia University's Research 
Center for Arts and Culture (RCAC) r focussed on examining the work- related 



The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1 970 to 1 990 I 49 



human and social service needs of artists. It was a mail survey in 1989 of artists, not 
simply authors. It covered Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. 
Paul, New York City, Philadelphia and San Francisco, plus Western Massachusetts 
and Cape Cod. 

The RCAC study provides some valuable insights into the economic condition 
of authors, and with its similar findings to other studies it becomes part of a useful 
body of studies that confirms the uniqueness of artists in general, and authors in 
particular. 

Authors in this study were very highly educated, especially those who stated their 
major area of concentration as "writing/literature." More than one-third had 
bachelor's degrees and more than one-half had graduate degrees. Over 63 percent had 
formal degrees in arts. RCAC authors are somewhat younger, more likely to be 
women, and more racially and ethnically diverse than both the Alper- Wassail and 
Census authors. They started their training at 16.4 years, which is relatively old 
compared to other artists. Most interesting is that the vast majority, 80 percent, 
indicated that they were, at least in part, "self-taught" writers. More than 40 percent 
of RCAC authors prepared for their writing careers though the use of private teachers 
and/or mentors. 18 

Table 25 details the labor market characteristics of RCAC authors. Their 
unemployment rate was almost double the national rate. Almost 90 percent of the 
writers needed to work at some non-writing job to support their art, and nearly half 
of them held multiple jobs at the time of the survey. A significant proportion 
indicated they worked more than a standard 40-hour week. 

The authors' income sources were varied, including working as a writer or other 
artistic endeavor. Only a minority had income from grants and/or awards, royalties, 
and unemployment insurance. (Table 26) Barely half the authors earned more than 
$500 (1988 dollars) from writing, writing-related or arts-related activity. An estimate 
of the average authors' earnings is over $4,600, enough to cover the expenses 
associated with producing their artistic work for just 43 percent of the writers. 

Earnings from work unrelated to writing played an important role in 
determining the authors' economic well-being. Almost half the RCAC writers had 
total income greater than $20,000, with the average income estimated at almost 
$21,700. This suggests that, on average, almost $17,000 of their income came from 
work not related to their writing or other activity and from non-labor income 
sources. 

Special Artist Surveys 

The number of studies based on surveys of a single artistic occupation are 
relatively few, which makes the Columbia Survey of American Authors (CSAA) 
sponsored by the Authors Guild Foundation so unique. 19 In addition to describing 
authors' experiences and economic condition, it obtained information that is 
idiosyncratic to the authors. It dealt with writing genre, separating information for 
writers of children's book, adult fiction and adult nonfiction, for example. It also 
made distinctions between different types of royalties. 



50 I Artists in the Work Force 



TABLE 25 




LABOR MARKET CHARACTERISTICS 




OF RCAC AUTHORS, 


1989 (percent) 






Authors(Primary) 


All Authors 


Unemployed 


9.5 


9.6 


Other Jobs to Support Writing or Other Arts Work 88.0 


85.0 


Multiple Job Holder 


49.1 


51.4 


Hours Writing or Other Arts Work: 






0-10 


19.9 


17.5 


10-20 


34.0 


29.5 


20-30 


20.1 


21.8 


30-40 


13.4 


14.0 


over 40 


12.5 


17.2 


Hours Worked on Non-arts Job: 






0-10 


17.1 


19.3 


10-20 


14.6 


15.7 


20-30 


23.7 


23.5 


30-40 


26.5 


25.2 


over 40 


18.1 


16.4 


Source: Authors' tabulations and calculations 


from Jeffri's study of artists. 







TABLE 26 






INCOMES OF RCAC AUTHORS, 1988 (percent) 










Authors (Primary) 


All Authors 


Arts Income: 










$ - 500 






48.5 


42.5 


501 - 3,000 






24.3 


23.5 


3,001 - 7,000 






7.5 


10.5 


7,001 - 12,000 






8.6 


9.1 


12,001 -20,000 






4.4 


6.5 


20,001 - 40,000 






5.4 


5.6 


over 40,000 






1.1 


2.3 


Total Income: 










$ 0- 5,000 






11.5 


11.0 


5,001 - 10,000 






14.3 


15.9 


10,001 -20,000 






29.3 


32.1 


20,001 - 30,000 






22.1 


19.9 


30,001 - 40,000 






13.1 


11.5 


over 40,000 






9.7 


9.6 


Grants - Awards Income 


(median) 




$ 871 
(0.0) 


$ 838 
(0.0) 


Royalties, etc. (median) 






$1,374 
(0.0) 


$1,107 
(0.0) 


Unemployment Income 


(median) 




$62 
(0.0) 


$ 107 
(0.0) 


Writing income exceeds costs (percent) 


42.7 


43.3 


Source: Authors' tabulations and calculations 


from Jeffri's study of artists. 



The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1 97C to 1 990 I 51 



The CSAA surveyed almost five thousand writers in 1980. Approximately 60 
percent of those sampled were from the Authors Guild's membership list. The 
remaining 40 percent were from a list of authors who had been invited to join the 
Guild, but had not done so. Therefore, this survey included only writers as defined 
by the Authors Guild's membership criteria: Writers with at least one book published 
in the last seven years, three works of fiction or non-fiction published by a magazine 
in the last 18 months, or a writer whose professional reputation entitles him/her to 
membership according to the Membership Committee. The study excluded 
academic writers, screen writers and new entrants to the writing market. 

Findings from the Columbia survey are generally consistent with those from the 
other two studies discussed. The survey identified 40 percent of authors as being 
women. CSAA authors were well educated, predominantly white (97 percent) and 
about two-thirds were married. 

Fully 70 percent of the authors had labor earnings from work other than their 
writing. Almost half the authors (46 percent) held regular salaried positions other 
than as a writer, and 40 percent of those without regular non-writing positions 
worked irregularly at things related to their writing such as editing, translating and 
lecturing. Approximately 40 percent held non-teaching professional jobs, and an 
equal proportion held teaching jobs, mostly at colleges and universities (90 percent). 

If the CSAA authors had to live only on earnings from writing, the majority 
would be in poverty. It was the non-writing activity and the income of the writers' 
spouse/spouse equivalent that provided total family income comparable to, if not 
better than, most professional workers. 

The typical (median) free-lance writer earned $4,775 in 1979 dollars from 
writing. About 10 percent of the free-lancers actually earned no income from 
writing-related activities and one-fourth earned less than $1,000. The top 10 percent 
of writers earned $45,000 or more, and the top 5 percent earned more than $80,000 
from writing. The hourly wage for writing-related work, after controlling for the 
amount of time spent, was $4.90 per hour. 

In general, the CSAA authors' writing-related income was somewhat less than 
half their personal income. Family income for the typical CSAA author was $38,000, 
reflecting considerable work effort on the part of each author's spouse. The 
contribution of the typical writer's husband to the household income was about 
$26,000, and that of the typical writer's wife about $4,000. 

One factor correlated with writing-related income was the author's writing genre. 
Poets earned the least from books, with approximately 60 percent earning less than 
$2,500, and almost 75 percent earning less than $5,000. Authors of "academically 
oriented nonfiction" fared only slightly better with almost 70 percent having earned 
less than $5,000. Writers of genre fiction (westerns, thrillers, science fiction, etc.) did 
better. Almost one-fourth of them earned in excess of $50,000 from their writing, 
while about the same proportion earned less than $5,000. By comparison, only 15 
percent of writers of general adult fiction and 7 percent of children's books writers 
earned more than $50,000. 

The author's gender made a difference. Median earnings for female authors was 
77 percent of those for male writers ($4,000 vs. $5,200). This difference did not exist 



52 I Artists in the Work Force 



at the extremes of the earnings distribution, as approximately the same proportion of 
men and women earned less than $2,500 and more than $50,000 from writing. For 
"committed full-time" writers, writing genre helped explain the gender wage 
differential. Women were almost three times as likely as men to write children's 
books, which usually don't generate as much income as other books. 

Because the CSAA study collected information on more than one year's income, 
a limited analysis could be made of the stability in authors' writing income. At the 
extremes of the income distribution a great deal of stability existed. More than 80 
percent of those earning less than $2,500 in 1978 from their writing did so in 1979. 
Half those who did improve earned between $2,500 and $4,999, only a slight 
improvement. At the other extreme, almost 90 percent of the writers who earned 
$100,000 or more in 1978 did so in 1979, and of those who did change, half were 
still earning between $50,000 and $99,000. Between these two extremes, fewer than 
half the writers with 1978 writing incomes between $2,500 and $19,999 remained 
in the same income group in 1979. Approximately 60 percent of writers with 
incomes in the range of $20,000 to $99,999 were in the same income category in 
both 1978 and 1979. 

Administrative Records 

Writers belong to a variety of professional organizations, including PEN and the 
Authors Guild, but very few of these organizations have any need to regularly collect 
information on the employment or earnings of its members. Very irregularly they 
may survey their members, as with the Authors Guild's study discussed above. 

Writers' unions, however, do need to regularly obtain employment and earnings 
information from their members, many of whom are independent contractors, rather 
than more traditional employees. The only way their unions can ensure that they are 
being compensated according to the negotiated rates is for the members to report 
their employment activity. It is also important in establishing employers' 
contributions to the unions' health and welfare funds. 

Two of the largest unions for writers are the Writers Guild of America and the 
Dramatists Guild. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is the only true writers' 
union because it is recognized by the National Labor Relations Board. This is because 
it represents writers who are employees, rather than writers who are independent 
contractors or who lease their copyrighted material to others. The WGA organizes 
writers, bargains with the production companies, networks, etc., and administers 
agreements in the television, radio and movie industries. Two affiliated unions make 
up the WGA: the WGA, East and the WGA, west. The Mississippi River divides the 
membership. 

The WGA, west, the larger of the two, has been very active since the mid-1980s 
in studying the employment experiences of its members, producing three reports 
which are derived from their administrative records. 20 The use of these records 
provides reliability that is not available from surveys of writers which rely on their 
memories or records. Also, there is no problem of response rate as with a survey. 



The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1 970 to 1 990 I 53 



On the other hand, the information in the union's administrative records 
probably does not provide a complete picture of the labor market experiences of its 
members. This is especially true for those writers who are not currently employed or 
who were employed part-time during the year. Other sources of labor earnings, 
whether from some other form of writing or not, are not included in the WGA 
records. Nor is any income from non-labor sources, such as unemployment benefits, 
welfare, rent, or other family members. 

New entrants into the occupation are not likely to be included. One reason is the 
initiation fee, $1,000 for WGA, East, for example. Newly employed writers who have 
not worked enough to be admitted to the union clearly are not included either. 

The union's records do not include much background information on the 
writers' education, training, socioeconomic background, and other elements of their 
lives that are relevant to a complete understanding of their economic condition. 

Even with these shortcomings, the three reports provide an interesting picture of 
the earnings and employment of writers in the television, film and radio industries — 
a picture consistent with what has already been discussed. 

Like the three reports written by Bielby and Bielby, the primary focus here will be on 
the employment and earnings experiences of women, minorities and "older" writers. 
It is, though, important to look first at the broader changes affecting WGA, west 
members. 

Employment of writers in the television, film and radio industries grew by more 
than 30 percent from 1982 to 1991 to almost 3,700 writers. The supply of writers 
outpaced the growth in jobs over this period. In 1985, 54 percent of the WGA, west 
members were employed in jobs covered by the unions' Minimum Basic Agreements 
(MBA) for at least one quarter during the year. In 1991, this percentage had 
decreased to 48 percent. 

Earnings of WGA, west writers grew considerably from 1982 to 1991. Median 
earnings (nominal) for the employed writers grew almost 117 percent, from $26,100 
to $56,619. Earnings growth was not equally shared by all writers. Those in the top 
5 percent of the earnings distribution saw their earnings grow by 96 percent over the 
period, picking up momentum from 1987 to 1991. Bielby and Bielby concluded that 
the gap between the highest paid and lowest paid writers grew in the late 1980s. 

Overall WGA membership grew by 40 percent from 1986 to 1991. Female 
membership grew by 60 percent and minority membership almost doubled. 
However, the occupation is still dominated by white males, who represented 75 
percent of the employed writers in 1991. The proportion of females was 22 percent, 
and minorities, almost 3.5 percent. Older writers, defined by Bielby and Bielby as 
more than 40 years old, had a 48 percent share of employment in 1991. 

The differences between WGA, west's earnings by gender are similar to the 
Census and other studies discussed. Throughout the ten-year period the median 
earnings of employed female writers were considerably less than male earnings. By 
the end of the decade women writers' median earnings were $45,995, or 75 percent 
of male writers. These figures include only earnings from writing jobs covered by the 
MBA. Also, the studies do not provide information on the number of hours worked 



54 I Artists in the Work Force 



which would enable the estimation of a wage rate. 

With respect to minority writers' relative earnings, the decade from 1982 to 
1991 was a period of considerable gain. In 1982 the median earnings of minority 
writers was $11,780, or 40 percent of those for non-minority writers. By 1991 the 
median earnings for minority writers were $48,061, or 80 percent of the earnings of 
non-minority writers. 

WGA, west data suggests that significant earnings differences exist among 
members depending on the genre in which they are working and by whom they are 
employed. In 1987 the median earnings for television writers were 22 percent higher 
than those of the median film writer, but this gap closed to 3 percent by 1991 . 21 

Throughout the entire period of the three WGA studies, the writers who worked 
for the major film production companies earned more than the writers in any other 
sector of the film or television industries. 22 Relative to the writers who worked for 
independent film producers (e.g., Orion and Gaunt Films Ltd.) those who worked 
for the major producers (MGM, Paramount, etc.) earned 72 percent more in 1982 
and 115 percent more in 1991. 

In television the pattern was essentially the same. Writers working for the major 
producers of television shows (e.g., Columbia and Fox) earned 62 percent more in 
1982 and double in 1991 what the writers employed by independent production 
companies earned. Writers employed by the three television networks also earned 
considerably less than those who worked for the major production companies. 

With regard to earnings, the relative difference between female and male writers 
varied within the genres. Women writers' relative earnings showed greater 
improvement among film writers than television writers. In 1987 the median 
earnings of female film writers was two-thirds that of white-male film writers. In 
1991 the gap had narrowed to 86 percent of male earnings. In the television industry 
the 1987 differential ratio was 68 percent, but improved to 77 percent by 1991. 

Within the film industry earnings of female writers fluctuated considerably 
relative to male writers, but from 1982 to 1991 showed improvement in major film 
production companies from 75 percent to 85 percent. Among the writers in the 
smaller film production companies, female earnings in 1982 were 80 percent of male 
earnings, and in 1991 were 78 percent of their male colleagues. 

The television industry saw female writers working for the major networks make 
significant gains over the 10-year period. In 1982 female writers earned 57 percent 
of male writers' earnings, but by 1990 and 1991, female writers' earnings were on par 
with male writers' earnings. Women writers working for the major television 
production companies in 1982 earned 61 percent of what male writers earned, but 
by 1991 they were earning 90 percent of what their male colleagues earned. 

Minor gains were also made in the numbers of women writers employed in 
television and film industries over the ten-year period. In the film industry female 
writers were 17 percent of the writers employed at the major studios in 1982 and 18 
percent in 1991. At the independent studios female writers were about 14 percent of 
the writers in 1982 and 18 percent in 1991. In television production female writers 
for the networks moved from 24 percent of writers employed in 1982 to about 27 



The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1 9/C to 1 990 I 55 



percent in 1991. One of the largest gains in female employment was among the 
major television production companies where women comprised almost 19 percent 
of writers employed in 1982 and 23 percent in 1991. 

Identifying trends in earnings or employment for minority writers is made more 
difficult by the relatively small numbers having been employed at all. For example, 
in 1987 the 13 minority writers working at major film production companies earned 
40 percent of their white male colleagues' earnings. One year later, minority 
writers — only five in number — apparently earned 135 percent more than their white 
male colleagues. Small absolute changes, but significant changes in relative terms, 
thus impact aggregate data even when utilizing medians. 

Considerable employment gains have been made by minority writers in both the 
television and film industries. Over the ten-year period minority employment in the 
major television production companies increased from 2.3 percent of total 
employment to 4.4 percent. At the networks minority representation among the 
writers increased from 1.0 percent to 4.6 percent. Absolute numbers were small, 
with just 16 minority writers at the networks in 1991, up from three in 1982. 
Minority employment at the major film studies increased from 1.0 percent to 3.2 
percent, while at the independent studios employment for minority writers went 
from 1 .0 percent to 2.2 percent. The total number of minority writers working in the 
movie industry in 1991 was only 50, up from 11 in 1982. 

Earnings of minority writers in the film and television industries relative to their 
white-male counterparts were volatile, but generally trended upward. In 1982 
minority writers employed by the networks earned 55 percent of what the white-male 
writers earned. By 1991 they were earning almost 70 percent of what their white- 
male colleagues earned. At the major television producers median minority earnings 
moved from 57 percent of median white-male earnings in 1982 to 93 percent by 
1991. In the film industry minority writers' median earnings at the major film 
studios went from 25 percent of the white-maie median in 1984 to two-thirds in 
1991. Gains for minority writers were greater among the independent film 
producers where in 1982 their median earnings were one-third of their white-male 
colleagues, but in 1991 were 18 percent larger. 

Writers in Other Countries 

It is interesting to note, even briefly, that general patterns found for authors in 
the U.S. tend to hold for authors in other parts of the world. International 
comparisons of authors are made difficult because few other countries except 
Australia and Canada obtain detailed information on the earnings and labor market 
experiences of the population comparable to that collected in the U.S. However, 
bearing that in mind, it is possible to observe some commonalities. 

The number of authors in other countries is also very small compared to the 
overall work force. In Australia and Canada, where census data are available, authors 
accounted for less than one-third of a percent. In the U.S. they were less than one- 
tenth of a percent. As in the U.S., the majority of writers in Canada, Finland and 



56 I Artists in the Work Force 



Australia were men, about 55 percent of the total. In France the proportion of male 
writers is much larger, about 80 percent. In several countries, as in the U.S., the 
proportion of female writers has been growing. 

Countries with data available on schooling showed authors to be very well 
educated. In Australia 44 percent of the authors had earned the highest degree 
reported in the census, compared to 8 percent for the total work force. In Canada in 
1981, 42 percent had earned bachelor's degrees, while only 10 percent of the general 
work force had done so. This pattern was also found for authors in Finland and 
France. 

In all the countries studied female authors' income was lower than that of their 
male colleagues. The differential some places was considerably less than in the U.S. 
where the median income for female writers was 52 percent of male writers' incomes. 
In Australia in 1986 female writers earned about 80 percent of what male writers 
earned. In Canada in 1980 female writers' income was about 65 percent of male 
writers' income. Even in Finland in 1984, where extensive public programs support 
all artists including writers, female writers had incomes that were 68 percent of male 
writers. 

Several surveys of writers in Great Britain, France and Finland confirm that 
writers there are not very different from writers in the U.S. In these countries the 
majority of writers had held multiple jobs at some point in their careers. In England 
in the early 1980s, 67 percent of writers surveyed identified writing as a secondary 
occupation. Finnish writers, too, are likely to be multiple job holders and not likely 
to be able to earn a living from their writing alone. 

Conclusion 

During the decades covered by this report, 1970 to 1990, there was a dramatic 
growth in the number of artists in the United States, with authors standing out as the 
fastest growing of the artistic occupations. According to the Census, the number of 
authors almost quadrupled, while the number of artists barely doubled. This period 
of growth saw considerable change in the composition of the occupation. At the end 
of the period women comprised half the authors when they were only one-third at 
the beginning. The proportion of non-white increased somewhat as did the 
education level, which was the highest among the artist occupations and on par with 
workers in other professions. 

The authors' labor market experiences also underwent some significant changes. 
In 1990 they were more likely to be self employed than they were in 1970, following 
a similar trend in the labor force as a whole. They worked slightly more hours during 
the week when they were working, but worked fewer weeks during the year. 

The economic condition of authors showed some signs of improvement and 
some signs of deterioration over the period. This is true relative to all other artists and 
relative to other professional workers. While the growth in authors' wage and salary 
earnings was considerable, it was not as large as it was for all artists and for all 
professional workers, perhaps reflecting the shift toward self employment. On the 



The Write Stuff: Employment and Earnings of Authors 1970 to 1990 I 57 



other hand, authors' total personal income was still higher than for all artists at the 
end of the period as it was at the beginning, as was total household income. The 
largest gain made by authors was in their hourly wage rate. Its increase was greater 
than the increase for all the artists, professional workers and other writing 
occupations. As a result of some of these changes, the proportion of authors in 
poverty increased, but not as much as for all artists. 

While these changes were occurring in the U.S., some of them were also 
occurring in other countries. Australia, Canada and Finland saw growth in the 
proportion of female authors. One common element that characterizes authors, and 
artists, throughout the world is the prevalence of multiple job holding. While this is 
not identifiable in the Census data, every survey of artists and authors, whether in 
the U.S. or elsewhere, finds this to be a common trait. In most countries the majority 
of writers work at more than one job during the year. For many this involves a job 
related to their writing, such as teaching, but for others it is the proverbial food 
service job. Another common trait is that female authors, on average, earn less than 
their male colleagues. There are many explanations for this pattern, including that 
women tend to spend less time working as writers, and that they write in genres that 
are not as well rewarded. 

The authors occupation world-wide is undergoing considerable change. Future 
research targeted to the distinctiveness of writers will be needed to determine these 
patterns and the impact of the changing economic and technological environment 
within which they are working. Change is inevitable, but what direction it takes and 
how it impacts authors is yet to be determined. 

Notes 

1. In practice the two definitions are virtually equivalent. There is often no 
difference between the two with respect to the occupations examined here. 

2. The Hispanic question in the 1970 Census was worded differently than in 1980 
and 1990, thus the information reported on Hispanics may not be comparable. 

3. The Census has several questions about disability status. Tables 5 and 6 refer to 
those who report a disability that either limits or prevents work. 

4. Unemployment rates for the years between Censuses can be calculated from the 
Current Population Survey. Sample sizes are much smaller, however, so they are not 
reliable for small occupational groups such as authors. 

5. Because of this practice, total earnings reported in the tables may slightly 
exceed the sum of the wage and salary and self-employment earnings reported 
above it. 

6. One can only speculate where other types of earnings authors may receive, from 
fellowships and readings, for example, would be classified. 

7. For example, in 1980 total personal income was estimated as the sum of the 
amounts in each of the seven categories, yielding possible amounts up to 
$525,000. The Census capped it at $75,000. 

8. Comparisons of median earnings among these groups tell a more dismal story. 



58 I Artists in the Work Force 



Authors start with the highest median earnings in 1969, and then have the lowest 
in 1979 and 1989. 

9. The poverty line is a federally established standard constructed by multiplying 
the cost of feeding a nutritionally balanced diet by three. The poverty line 
increases with increasing family size, and is adjusted annually for changes in the 
cost of living. 

10. Beginning with January 1994, questions about multiple job-holding are now 
asked on a monthly basis in the CPS. 

11. In the 1991 CPS only nine individuals indicated their primary occupation was 
author, and that they held a second job. 

12. Stinson (1990). 

13. For example see Wassail, Alper, and Davison (1983). 

14. For example see Jeffri (1989). 

15. Kingston and Cole (1986). 

16. Bielby and Bielby (1987), (1989), and (1993). 

17. Jeffri (1989) 

18. Multiple responses were permitted to this question and others in the survey. 

19. Kingston and Cole, op. cit. 

20. Bielby and Bielby (1987), (1989), and (1993). 

21. Bielby and Bielby (1993), Table 5. 

22. Bielby and Bielby (1987), Appendix Table 4, and Bielby and Bielby (1993) Table 5. 

About the Authors 

Neil O. Alper is an associate professor of economics at Northeastern University. 
His teaching and research interests are in the area of applied microeconomics. 
Previously, Professor Alper had a joint position in the Department of Economics and 
the Center for Business and Economics Research at the University of Tennessee in 
Knoxville. He has published a number of articles, books and reports, and presented 
professional papers on cultural economics, economics of crime and labor economics. 
He received his baccalaureate degree in economics from the State University of New 
York at Stony Brook, and his master's and doctoral degrees in economics from the 
University of Pittsburgh. 

Gregory H. Wassail is an associate professor of economics at Northeastern 
University. He has authored a number of articles on the economics of the arts and 
culture in books and journals. In addition, he has co-authored The Arts and the New 
England Economy (1989) and Artwork: The Work and Pay of Artists in New England 
(1983). He has served as a consultant to both regional and state arts agencies, and to 
state and local governments on issues facing the arts, education and tax policy. 



II. Artists Who Work with Their Hands 
A Trend Report, 1 970 to 1 990 

by Joan Jeffri and Robert Greenblatt 

Overview 



Artists are always a product of their own times. The years covered by this report 
have seen resources developing for individual artists that have changed the 
artists' relationship to their own growth, careers and support systems. Such resources 
have taken the form of grants, arts service organizations, commissions, and 
cooperative and commercial galleries, to name a few. The G.I. Bill after World War 
II, for example, became a turning point in the formal higher education of visual 
artists. 

Since 1970, development of the nonprofit sector on a broad scale has expanded 
opportunities for visual artists, providing many more venues to show their work. Pro 
bono attorneys, like Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, have helped inform visual artists 
about their rights, including copyright. These signs of progress, and many more, 
continue to affect the careers and living conditions of those who work with their 
hands. 

This report examines trends in the visual arts occupations of painters, sculptors, 
craft artists and artist printmakers — all of whom currently occupy one category of the 
United States Census — from 1970 to 1990 in the areas of employment, earnings and 
geographic distribution. In addition to information from the U.S. Census and related 
research monographs, information will be targeted from artist population surveys 
conducted by the Research Center for Arts and Culture at Columbia University and 
surveys by other researchers, including one commissioned by the New England 
Foundation for the Arts and a longitudinal study conducted by psychologists from 
the University of Chicago. 

As discussed in the general introduction to this overall report on artists, there are 
both limitations and advantages to Census data sets and artist survey data sets. 
However, taken together, these sources provide a broader profile of visual artists in 
the United States than has been possible before. 

A basic limitation of all these surveys is their regard of arts occupations as 
comparable to other trades and professions. Sociologist Judith Adler discussed this: 
"A study of artists in a society in which occupational membership is (fortunately) not 
defined or restricted by a guild, an academy or a state system of licensing can neither 
comfortably ignore problems of occupational definition nor resolve them. 
Accepting, then, an imperfect definition of art occupations, there are various 
limitations and advantages of the data used as a basis of this analysis. 

The focus here with non-census data will be the 1980s. Several surveys which 
cover different geographic locations during that decade serve to complement and 



60 I Artists in the Work Force 



broaden census data. Also, by 1980, public funding at the federal and state levels had 
become increasingly important to visual artists. And the 1980s marked the "art 
boom," as journalists describe it, a time when prices for contemporary visual art 
reached an economic peak in the marketplace. Also, the visual arts provided a 
catalyst, through controversy over work by artists Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres 
Serrano, among many others, for a broad-based public discussion of the role, 
function and support of art. 

Data from the United States Census 

• Multi-Categories. Those who have a particular interest in visual artists will 
acknowledge that the combination of artist types in one category not only groups 
together very different kinds of creators, but each group interacts very differently 
with the profit and nonprofit marketplaces. Their commonality lies in the fact 
that they all work with their hands. Lumping together artists whose work can 
appear in multiples with artists who work in singular objects distorts the 
information gathered on earnings (money made from a single object, a limited 
edition, or a series of multiples), hours worked (time required to produce one 
painting, one sculpture, one craft work or the original for what will become a 
series of prints, glass goblets, etc.) and even geographic distribution (access to 
equipment from suitable studio space to foundries and kilns). 

• Multi-Jobs. Another limitation of Census data regards multi-jobs. It is well 
known that artists often hold two or more jobs simultaneously. Artists included 
in the Census are asked to describe their chief occupation during the previous 
week and are cited under a single occupation. While the "reference week" may 
limit the artist's Census occupation according to the job he spent the most hours 
earning money from (i.e., taxi driving), there is no provision for his artist 
occupation to be cited. Finally, the broadness of Census categories tends to hide 
certain subtleties. (What about multi-media artists, for example?) Agencies like 
the National Endowment for the Arts seem to have understood these differences 
for funding purposes, using discrete categories which represent a broad variety of 
artists. 

• Multi-Art Forms. A problem not addressed by the Census or most other artist 
surveys is the fact that some artists work in more than one art form. In the 
process of being an artist, they pursue a number of art forms until they find the 
one that best suits their mode of expression. They may work for a period of time 
in one art form and find their work evolving into expression through a different 
art form. Or they combine art forms, sometimes being labeled as multi-media 
artists and sometimes as hyphenates: painter-craftsperson, dancer-photographer, 
etc. Taken together with the multi-job and multi-career situations mentioned 
above, it becomes clear that accurate "artist categories" can be extremely 
complex. 

How artists are placed in Census categories is discussed in the general 
introduction to this report. A few major discrepancies regarding artists who work 
with their hands are pointed out here. 



Artists Who Work with Their Hands A Trend Report, 1970 to 1990 I 61 



• Artists are classified in the Census under Managerial and Professional Specialty 
Occupations with a subset of Writers, Artists, Entertainers and Athletes. Under 
this are finer categories of architects, designers, etc. 

• Through the decades, even within this category, at least one occupation has gone 
through a major revision according to the Census: before 1980 there was no 
category defining "craft artists," so it is not known where craftspeople were 
identified. Since 1980, the craft artist is part of the multi-category However, 
within the finer Census categories (just as examples) there are no categories for 
Fiber Artist, Weaver, Goldsmith, Silversmith, Leatherworker, Papermaker or 
Bookbinder. Calligraphers appear in the 1990 Census category "Artists, 
Performers and Related Workers, Not Elsewhere Classified," but are not counted 
in the Census figures which report craft artists. 

• Before 1970 many of the artists in the multi-category analyzed in this report 
were classified under Artists and Art Teachers. In 1970 the category became 
Painters and Sculptors. Starting in 1980 the category became Painters, Sculptors, 
Craft Artists and Artist Printmakers. 

• Job titles under the Census category "Painters and Sculptors" included in artist 
occupations of the 1980 Census, cardpainters, music autographers and tattoo 
artists. 

• In the 1980 Standard Occupational Classification Manual under the larger 
classification "Fabricators, Assemblers and Hand Working Occupations," the 
following were listed: Hand Sewing Occupations (Embroiderers?), Hand 
Painting, Coating and Decorating Occupations and Miscellaneous Hand 
Working Occupations. There were also separate listings for Bookbinders and 
Cabinet Makers. Clearly, not everyone who fits into one of these categories 
would claim he is an artist or craftsperson, but some would. The above examples 
illustrate difficulties of inclusion as well as exclusion in Census categories. 

Discrete Surveys 

Three surveys conducted by the Research Center for Arts and Culture (RCAC) 
at Columbia University were used for this report and are summarized briefly here. 

1. In 1986 The Artist's Work- Related, Human and Social Services Questionnaire 
surveyed 900 fellowship applicants to the New York Foundation for the Arts 
(NYFA) with a focus on visual artists categories in New York City. The RCAC 
administered the same questionnaire in three separate rounds of 300 artists each 
in March, June and September of 1986. In October a random sample of 50 
artists was sent the questionnaire as a control group to ascertain if fellowship 
applicants responded differently before, during and after the fellowship 
application process, since this was a universe of artists applying for money. In 
fact, there was a significant decrease in the response rate from March 1986 before 
fellowships were announced to the subsequent two rounds after fellowships were 
announced. The 900 artists represented 14 artistic disciplines. The total response 
was 561 artists or 62 percent. Of these, 163 represent artists in the painting, 



62 I Artists in the Work Force 



sculpture and crafts categories in New York City. Information from the three 
separate rounds has been aggregated here. 
2 In 1988 the RCAC conducted the Information on Artists Survey of 9,870 in 10 
U.S. locations: Boston, Cape Cod, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, 
Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco and western 
Massachusetts. Artists were located with the help of local, regional and national 
organizations, and the overall response rate was 4,146 or 42 percent. Although 
the sample was a random one, it is not certain that it was representative of the 
artist population, since one of the problems of artist definition is the universe 
from which the sample is drawn. Nevertheless, this information provides a 
parallel portrait to that portrayed by the U.S. Census. This report will focus on 
those artists who, when asked their major field of concentration, gave 
painting/drawing, sculpture or crafts as their first, second or third choice. 

3. The 1991 Artists Training and Career Project surveys focused on painters and 
craftspeople. In the craft survey 3,942 questionnaires were mailed to a random 
sample in 1990. The response rate was 33 percent, representing 1,301 
craftspeople. In the painters survey, a random sample of 2,000 painters was 
mailed in 1991. The response was 960 painters or 48 percent with 2 percent 
arriving after the data entry period, so 920 painters or 46 percent was the 
number used for reporting. 

4. In addition, the survey conducted by Gregory Wassail and Neil Alper for the 
New England Foundation for the Arts between 1980 and 1982 will be used. For 
this report, Massachusetts is the focal point where 8,000 questionnaires were 
sent, with a response rate of 1,281 or 16 percent. Of this response, there are data 
for 291 painters, sculptors and craftspeople from greater metropolitan Boston. 
While this sample is small, it is interesting to compare these findings with those 
of the RCAC in its Information on Artists data on Boston, bearing in mind that 
the surveys are seven years apart and do not necessarily cover the same universe. 

5. One other study needs special mention since it is the only truly longitudinal 
study done of fine artists in this country. In 1963 two psychologists from the 
University of Chicago, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Jacob W. Getzels, 
undertook a study which tested, interviewed and observed at work almost 300 
junior and senior fine arts majors at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 
The purpose of their study of these fine arts majors "was to find out the extent 
to which various cognitive abilities... perceptual abilities, values and personality 
characteristics are involved in the making of art that is thought to be creative." 2 

In 1980 these scholars were able to locate 250 of the original sample of 281, 
and administer the first truly longitudinal study of artists. The response was 208, 
or 74 percent. This second study focused on "the vicissitudes of creativity in art" 
and was also "a study of young people moving into adulthood." 3 It produced an 
unpublished report in 1984, Talent and Achievement, which provides important 
insights into the very areas tracked in this report: income, employment and 
geographical differences, as well as other areas. 



Artists Who Work with Their Hands A Trend Report, 1 970 to 1 990 I 63 



Challenges 

• Occupation vs. Career. For some artists the ideas of "occupation" and "career" 
are not the way they choose to identify themselves. (Indeed, some painters 
interviewed for a RCAC project said that in their early painting days in the 
1950s, "career" was not part of their professional vocabulary; they simply "were 
painters.") Since Census and most other surveys ask artists to "self-identify" 
either their occupation, career, or both, this creates difficulties for identifying the 
targeted population. 

• Professional vs. Amateur. There is a question of who is a "professional artist," 
with disagreement in the art world itself as to what constitutes a professional 
artist. The question is also raised of who are "amateur artists," who are also 
producers of art. There is no formal Academy to accredit the artist, no equivalent 
to the attorney's bar exam to certify him. Even the university degrees of fine arts 
are not a universally accepted standard for being an artist. 

• Geographic Attitudes. A "big city" bias exists for many, including many artists, 
in the art world. In most of the arts the centers of artist activity against which 
artists are always comparing themselves are New York and Los Angeles. For the 
visual artists addressed here, the primary locus seems to be New York. 
Montana painter Karen Kitchel discussed this bias: "The most widespread 
assumption in the U.S. art world is that if you're not in New York, you're 
nowhere... To simplify the tremendous amount of activity going on outside of 
New York City... is a transparent attempt to minimize any accurate sense of the 
creative depth, diversity or market in the United States... standards obsessed with 
regional hierarchy betray a lack of aesthetic focus and miss the point. They're out 
of date and fail to reflect this age of travel and instant information, as well as 
artists' diverse living and working arrangements." 4 

An application by Arts Midwest to the NEA in 1987 stated: "Visual artists 
choosing to live in the Midwest have fewer opportunities for encouragement, 
recognition and financial support... A study of artists published in March 1987 
by the National Endowment for the Arts indicates that our region of the country 
has lost more artists than any other region over the five-year period 
researched... Arts Midwest believes that artists do not have to live in New York to 
succeed in their profession; although that city may boast an active artistic 
climate, it should not be the only place for artists to successfully create and 
market their works." 5 

Some interesting data supplement these opinions. In the study of fine arts 
students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago previously mentioned, 25 
percent of the former students stayed in Chicago, 17 percent lived in Chicago 
suburbs and another 18 percent lived in the Midwest. Only half the artists who 
lived in New York in 1981 were fully involved in art and "at least one-third had 
given up on the practice of art entirely. "In fact," say the study's authors, "moving 
to New York is clearly an either-or proposition: those living there are either 
committed or quit; very few remain only partly committed to art." 6 



64 I Artists in the Work Force 



In its 1988 study of 10,000 artists in ten U.S. locations called Information 
on Artists, RCAC found that of 4,146 responses, 61 percent of the painters and 
58 percent of the craftspeople received art-related training in the city or region 
where they currently reside. 

Art as a Core Activity. Howard Becker describes some of society's attitudes 
toward the artist which complicate economic analyses: "Participants in the 
making of artworks, and members of society generally, regard some of the 
activities necessary to the production of a form of art as 'artistic,' requiring the 
special gifts or sensibility of an artist. They further regard those activities as the 
core activities of art, necessary to make the work art rather than (in the case of 
objects), an industrial product, a craft item or a natural object... The remaining 
activities seem to them a matter of craft, business acumen, or some ability less 
rare..." 7 Becker goes on to describe how that core activity called art changes over 
time, painting once being regarded as skilled work and then elevated to more 
special status during the Renaissance, craft activities being redefined as art. 
Artist Focus. Some artists are considered "Creator oriented" with a focus on the 
process and creation of the work itself, and others are considered "consumer 
oriented." This is not an attempt to judge either the artists or their art, but to 
point out that the former state translates economically into limited audiences 
and low wages, according to Mary Jean Ryan in her dissertation, In Quiet 
Desperation: Professional Strategies of the Aspiring Fine Artist (UCLA, 1985). 

Research in psychology has put the economic motivation of so-called 
"starving artists" in perspective by suggesting that some fine artists may operate 
according to intrinsic rather than extrinsic activity. Joanna Stohs defines intrinsic 
motivation: the fine artist "engages in art work for reasons such as satisfaction, 
intellectual growth, or emotional or psychological goals (self-fulfillment or 
gratification). There are no references to things outside the self (e.g. income or 
evaluations by others). The activity is sought because it increases competence or 
self-determination or provides inner rewards of personal challenges." 8 

Perhaps economic success is not of primary importance to the artists 
themselves, or at least to certain kinds of "fine artists." If this is true, measuring 
trends in income and jobs for these artists may be relevant compared to other 
professions, even other artists' professions, but may not necessarily represent the 
artists accurately. 

Context: Education and Resources. Enormous changes have occurred in 
opportunities for education and formal training for visual artists in the country 
and in public funding. BFA and MFA Programs in Fine Arts, targeted to all the 
artist specialties covered here, were well underway by the end of the 1960s. By 
the late 1980s, a Directory of the National Schools of Art and Design listed 164 
programs. By the 1960s state arts agencies included every state and U.S. territory, 
the National Endowment for the Arts was created, and community and local arts 
agencies began strengthening their force. By the 1970s new programs targeting 
unthought-of constituencies were added to funding agencies (like the Expansion 
Arts Program at the NEA). By the 1980s agencies which funded individual artists 



Artists Who Work with Their Hands A Trend Report, 1 970 to 1 990 I 65 



(like the New York Foundation for the Arts) joined together to form a seven-state 
consortium and received a challenge grant from the NEA. By the 1990s 
arguments of freedom of expression, censorship and the relationship between the 
government and artists centered around visual artists. Other developments in 
resources are mentioned at the beginning of this section. 

Other United States Data 

Discrete surveys included in this report have a number of common 
characteristics. First, they all represent findings from artists in the 1980s. Second, 
they all relied on the cooperation of the arts institution community to provide lists 
of artists' names. While these lists aid in constructing a profile of people who are 
considered artists, they do not identify artists who do not join institutions, apply for 
funding or use service organizations. Finally, the studies included here seek to give 
some insight into the national as well as the local picture of artists. 

For purposes of at least rough comparison with the U.S. Census, painters, 
sculptors and craftspeople are analyzed together as one category in three of the four 
studies examined by this report (artist printmakers were impossible to identify 
according to the definitional categories of the surveys.) Regarding the fourth survey, 
The Artists Training and Career Project, results were analyzed for one national study 
of painters and another of craftspeople. 

United States Census Data, 1970-1990 

This research monograph looks at one Census occupation category of visual 
artists, which combines painters, sculptors, craft artists and artist printmakers, from 
1970-1990. The accompanying tables provide the actual Census trends in 
employment, earnings, education and geographic trends by age and gender. 

General trends in the experienced civilian labor force from 1970-1990 are 
discussed in the General Introduction and include overall growth in the labor force 
and trends by gender and age. This report will concentrate on visual artists. 

Between 1970 and 1990 the total artist population more than doubled, from 
720,000 to 1,671,000. While the male artist population almost doubled (a rise of 46 
percent) from 499,000 in 1970 to 931,000 in 1990, the female artist population 
tripled from 221,000 in 1970 to 675,000 in 1990. 

Female painters/craft artists by 1990 numbered 107,920, accounting for 56 
percent of painters/craft artists. This compares to their percentages among all artists, 
up 7 percent from 1970 to 1980 and another 3 percent from 1980 to 1990. From 
1970 to 1980 there was over 7 percent point rate of growth for women artists, 
although the growth rate of female workers slowed after 1980. For male painters/craft 
artists, rate of growth decreased from 64 percent in 1970 to 52 percent in 1980 and 
to 44 percent in 1990 (Table 1). 

In 1970 painters/craft artists totaled 102,600; in 1980, they totaled 151,360, 14 
percent of all artists; by 1990 they totaled 191,160, or 13 percent of all artists, the 
second largest of all artist occupations, representing .174 percent of the total labor force. 



66 I Artists in the Work Force 





TABLE 1 






GROWTH IN ARTIST OCCUPATION BY GENDER, 




1970 TO 1990 (numbers in thousands) 






1970 


1980 


1990 


Painters/craft-artists: 








Total: 


102,600 


151,360 


191,160 


Male 


65,225 


78,440 


83,240 


Female 


37,375 


72,920 


107,920 


% Female 


36.40% 


48.18% 


56.46% 


All Artists 








Total: 


720,000 


1,086,000 


1,671,000 


Male 


499,000 


675,000 


931,000 


Female 


221,000 


411,000 


675,000 


% Female 


30.60% 


37.80% 


40.39% 


Sources: Painters/craft artists are 


Greenblatt's numbers. 


All Artists are 


from 


Beresford. 








Notes: Sums for men and women may not add to totah 


i due to round 


ing. 



Geographic Trends 

According to Deirdre Gaquin 9 between 1980 and 1985, 41 percent of the 
population changed their place of residence. She warns that statistics for 1990 in this 
area are unreliable due to a change in urban/rural distinctions by the Census, so the 
following figures on artists and painters/craft artists are cited with caution. 

In 1980, 86 percent of male artists and 85 percent of female artists were urban 
residents. By 1990, 78 percent of male artists and 72 percent of female artists were 
urban residents. Urban dwellers among male painters and craft artists went from 90 
percent in 1970 to 86 percent in 1980 to 80 percent in 1990. 

Urban dwellers among women painters and craft artists also declined, going from 
86 percent in 1970 to 85 percent in 1980 to 76 percent in 1990, renewing discussion 
on whether artists need to work in the same geographic area where their work is sold. 

Regarding distribution of artists by Census region, male artists by 1990 had 
highest proportions residing in the West; females had highest proportions residing in 
the South. Male artists had increases in the West, up to 30 percent and male painters 
and craft artists had up to 28 percent increases in the West, where their highest 
proportions were. Their most substantial decrease was in the Northwest. 

Female painters and craft artists had highest proportions residing in the South, 
and their most substantial decrease was in the Northeast (Table 2). 



Artists Who Work with Their Hands A Trend Report 1 970 to 1 990 I 67 







TABLE 2 






REGION OF THE EXPERIENCED CIVILIAN LABOR FORCE, PROFESSIONAL 


SPECIALTY WORKERS, AND ALL ARTISTS BY DETAILED ARTIST OCCUPATION & GENDER 




Total 


Northeast 


South 


Mid-West 


West 


MALE 












Total ECLF age 16+ 










1970 


49,454,750 


12,297,777 


14,496,048 


14,164,371 


8,496,554 




100.00% 


24.87% 


29.31% 


28.64% 


17.18% 


1980 


59,753,512 


12,992,230 


19,095,118 


15,916,277 


11,749,887 




100.00% 


21.74% 


31.96% 


26.64% 


19.66% 


1989 


56,030,000 


11,569,000 


13,953,000 


19,004,000 


11,510,000 




100.00% 


20.65% 


24.90% 


33.92% 


20.54% 


1991 


56,898,000 


11,635,000 


14,146,000 


19,4888,000 


11,624,000 




1 00.00% 


20.45% 


24.86% 


34.25% 


20.43% 


Professional 


Specialty Occup. 










1970 


4,897,893 


1,352,854 


1,269,027 


1,269,675 


1,006,337 




100.00% 


27.62% 


25.91% 


25.92% 


20.55% 


1980 


6,247,708 


1,549,503 


1,787,714 


1,510,601 


1,399,890 




100.00% 


24.80% 


28.61% 


24.18% 


22.41% 


1990 


7,680,874 


1,799,687 


2,331,516 


1,712,274 


1,837,397 




100.00% 


23.40% 


30.40% 


22.30% 


23.90% 


All Artists 












1970 


439,025 


132,075 


100,750 


105,325 


100,875 




100.00% 


30.08% 


22.85% 


23.99% 


22.98% 


1980 


670,540 


178,480 


174,660 


139,800 


177,602 




100.00% 


26.62% 


26.05% 


20.85% 


26.49% 


1990 


733,100 


177,540 


201,900 


137,240 


216,420 




100.00% 


24.20% 


28.30% 


18.70% 


29.50% 


Painters, Sculptors, etc. 










1970 


65,225 


23,200 


12,050 


16,725 


13,250 




100.00% 


35.57% 


18.47% 


25.64% 


20.31% 


1980 


78,440 


23,380 


17,560 


16,440 


21,060 




100.00% 


29.81% 


22.39% 


20.96% 


26.85% 


1990 


93,240 


24,320 


24,000 


18,800 


26,000 




100.00% 


26.10% 


25.90% 


20.20% 


27.90% 


FEMALE 












Total ECLF age 16+ 










1970 


30,346,855 


7,695,838 


9,150,814 


8,371,504 


5,128,699 




100.00% 


25.36% 


30.15% 


27.59% 


16.90% 


1980 


44,304,473 


9,829,878 


14,356,720 


11,535,717 


8,582,158 




100.00% 


22.19% 


32.40% 


26.04% 


19.37% 


1989 


56,030,000 


11,569,000 


13,953,000 


19,004,000 


11,510,000 




1 00.00% 


20.65% 


24.90% 


33.92% 


20.54% 


1991 


56,893,000 


11,635,000 


14,146,000 


19,488,000 


11,614,000 




100.00% 


20.45% 


24.86% 


34.25% 


20.41% 


Professional 


Specialty Occup. 










1970 


3,902,317 


1,014,864 


1,149,025 


1,044,513 


693,915 




100.00% 


26.01% 


29.44% 


26.77% 


1 7.78% 


1980 


6,027,432 


1,461,084 


1,913,123 


1,517,197 


1,136,028 




100.00% 


24.24% 


31.74% 


25.17% 


18.85% 


1990 


8,939,932 


2,117,933 


2,906,372 


2,077,082 


1,838,545 




1 00.00% 


23.70% 


32.50% 


23.20% 


20.60% 


All Artists 












1970 


158,575 


49,425 


37,400 


36,700 


35,050 




100.00% 


31.17% 


23.59% 


23.14% 


22.10% 


1980 


413,280 


102,980 


119,620 


88,540 


102,320 




100.00% 


24.92% 


28.94% 


21.42% 


24.76% 


1990 


691,880 


105,000 


202,680 


133,940 


190,260 




1 00.00% 


23.80% 


29.30% 


19.30% 


27.50% 


Painters, Sculptors, etc. 










1970 


37,375 


12,025 


8,650 


9,175 


7,525 




100.00% 


32.17% 


23.14% 


24.55% 


20.13% 


1980 


72,920 


19,100 


19,340 


14,300 


20,180 




100.00% 


26.19% 


26.52% 


19.61% 


27.67% 


1990 


107,920 


26,140 


30,760 


21,180 


29,840 




100.00% 


24.20% 


28.50% 


19.60% 


27.70% 


Sources: All Artists and Painters, 


Sculptors Etc. tor 1990 is Greenblatt. 


Data tor 1970/1980 are Citro & 


Gaquin. 1990 Professional Specialty Workers in J 


rom Gaquin. All other data is t'rom the U.S. Statistical 


Abstracts. 













68 I Artists in the Work Force 



Age 



Trend data for age patterns is particularly difficult to assess with confidence for 
several reasons: the definitional changes of artists categories, the relatively small 
sample size for each occupation and the challenges presented in the first section of 
this report. 

Between 1 970 and 1 990 baby boomers entered the labor force and male workers 
declined in labor force participation, possibly due to their choosing early retirement 
and the longer tenure of females in the job force. 

Male artists were similar (but younger on average) in 1990 to all male workers 
with their median age dropping from 37-38 in 1970 to 34 in 1980 and rising to 37 
in 1990. Male painters and crafts artists had higher median ages than the general 
labor force in 1990, but were closer to male professionals, moving from a median age 
of 39 in 1970 to 36 in 1980 and 40 in 1990. 

For all male artists the largest age group was the 25-34 year olds with 31 percent. 
For male painters and craft artists, the 35-44 year old group was largest, with 29 
percent (Table 3). 

Female artists were similar (but younger on average) in 1990 to all female 
workers, with their median age dropping from 37-38 to 33 in 1980 and rising to 37 
in 1990. For all female artists the largest age group was 25-34 year olds at 34 percent, 
and for female painters and craft artists the 35-44 year old group was largest with 31 
percent (Table 3). 







TABLE 3 






AGE AND EDUCATION OF PAINTERS/CRAFT-ARTISTS, 






BY GENDER 1970 TO 1990 








Percent Age 




Percent with Education 








Median Age 


Less than 


4+ Years 




16-34 


55& Older 


(in Yrs) 


High School 


of College 


Male Painters/Craft-Artists: 








1970 


40.40 


15.20 


39.00 


10.30 


25.30 


1980 


47.80 


16.30 


36.10 


7.60 


35.10 


1990 


38.30 


16.80 


39.72 


1.40 


27.10 


Female Painters/Craft-Artists: 








1970 


49.50 


12.10 


35.20 


10.90 


26.10 


1980 


57.70 


10.90 


33.00 


5.00 


41.70 


1990 


39.50 


12.30 


38.57 


0.90 


33.00 


Sources: Data from 1970/1980 are from Citro & Gaq 


uin. 1990 data 


is from 


Greenblatt. 













Education 

The post World War II availability of education in general, and for artists in 
particular, raised the educational profile of many Americans. For artists, although 



Artists Who Work with Their Hands A Trend Report, 1970 to 1990 I 69 



their educational levels were higher than the general work force, they were below all 
professionals and showed smaller percentage point increase in proportions with 
college degrees. 

In 1990, 40 percent of male artists had completed four or more years of college 
compared with 76 percent of male professionals. Forty percent of female artists had 
completed four or more years of college compared with 66 percent of female 
professionals. For male painters and craft artists by 1990, 37 percent had four or 
more years of college while 43 percent of female painters and craft artists had four or 
more years of college. Statistics on education suffer from a change in the wording of 
the Census questions and are to be viewed with caution. Also, the discrete studies on 
painters/craft artists provide a different profile. 

Employment and Earnings 

Deirdre Gaquin summarized some striking trends characterizing patterns of 
employment and earnings after World War II. During those years men in the labor 
force trended away from self-employment and toward working for private employers 
and government. Women workers were also increasingly attracted to public sector 
employment and more workers, particularly among women, were employed year- 
round. Median earnings for men increased 75 percent and for women, 43 percent, 
from 1950 to 1970. After 1970, real earnings adjusted for inflation declined sharply, 
particularly among women, whose median earnings remained less than half those of 
men throughout this period. 10 

The trend in employment sectors for artists differs from that of the general labor 
force in the post WW II years, as artists moved toward self employment during this 
time. In 1970, 67 percent of male artists and 69 percent of female artists worked in 
private firms; 10 percent of male artists and 8 percent of female artists worked in 
government, and 23 percent of males and 21 percent of females were self-employed. 
In 1980 self-employment was on the rise, with 60 percent of male artists and 65 
percent of female artists working for private firms, 7 percent of both male and female 
artists working for government, and 32 percent male and 28 percent female artists 
self-employed. By 1990 self-employment for artists had increased slightly with 33 
percent of males and 31 percent of female artists self-employed, compared to 62 
percent of male artists and 64 percent of female artists working for private firms and 
5 percent of both males and females working for the government. 

Painters and craft artists show still higher percentages of self employment, so that 
by 1990 nearly half of males and females were self employed. In 1970, 62 percent of 
male painters and craft artists and 58 percent of female painters/craft artists worked 
for private firms, 7 percent of males and 8 percent of females worked for government 
and 32 percent of males and 34 percent of females were self-employed. In 1980, 48 
percent of both male and female painters/craft artists worked for private firms, 7 
percent of both worked for government and 45 percent of males and 42 percent of 
females were self-employed. By 1990, 48 percent of male painters/craft artists and 45 
percent of females worked for private firms, 5 percent of males and 4 percent of 



70 I Artists in the Work Force 



females worked for the government and 47 percent of males and 49 percent of 
females were self-employed. 

In terms of unemployment according to Census definitions, unemployment 
declined for both male and female painters and craft artists from 1980 to 1990 after 
a rise from 1970 to 1980. 

For male artists, unemployment declined by almost 2 percent from 1970 to 
1990, while female artists' unemployment declined by a full 2 percent. For male 
painters/craft artists, unemployment growth was less than 1 percent, but for females 
unemployment declined between 1970 and 1990 by less than 1 percent. 

Problems arise in measuring year-round employment for artists, and even more 
so when it comes to painters and craft artists, since the nature of employment (1) 
often is not attached to a single employer; (2) is not always characterized as 
"employment" — the sale of a painting is not employment; (3) is not always 
measurable by the standards of full-time and part-time work the Census uses (many 
artists are literally always working) and (4) does not often translate into eligibility for 
unemployment benefits (because the artist's work time cannot be verified by an 
"employer.") The artist may be self-employed, but he also may earn most of his 
income at other work such as teaching, and declare his art income as "other." 

That females earn less than males in all sectors is obvious throughout the 1970- 
1990 period. (Table 4). Male painters' and craft artists' median incomes fall below 
the medians for the total labor force and professionals. Female painters/craft artists' 
median earnings are either close to or above those of the total female work force. 

The median income for male artists grew from $8,768 to $14,219 between 1970 
and 1980 and to $21,600 by 1990. For male painters and craft artists the median 
income grew from $8,893 in 1970 to $12,684 in 1980 and to $18,187 in 1990. 
(Table 4) 

For female artists the median income was $3,637 in 1970, $6,712 in 1980 and 
$11,096 in 1990. For female painters and craft artists, the median was $3,682 in 
1970, $6,612 in 1980 and $22,041 in 1990 (more than triple the 1980 figure). 

For those male artists who worked between 50 and 52 weeks per year, the median 
income almost tripled from $9,550 in 1970 to $27,961 in 1980 and went to $31,124 
in 1990. For male painters and craft artists the median income grew more slowly 
from $9,672 in 1970 to $15,112 in 1980 and to $24,320 in 1990. 

Female artists enjoyed a four-fold increase in median income from $4,152 in 
1970 to $17,328 in 1980 and then a smaller increase to $20,825 by 1990. For female 
painters and craft artists, the median went from $5,347 in 1970 to $9,344 in 1980 
and to $18,762 in 1990. 

Full-year male painters and craft artists' median earnings exceeded that of their 
part-year colleagues, but full-year female painters and craft artists' median income 
did not. 

In summary, by 1990 there was a larger proportion of women as painters, 
sculptors, craft artists and artist printmakers, with fewer living in urban areas. They 
had a higher median income than all artists and the general labor force, but were 
closer in median age to professionals. For both males and females, their level of 



Artists Who Work with Their Hands A Trend Report, 1 970 to 1 990 I 71 





TABLE 4 






EARNINGS OF THE EXPERIENCED CIVILIAN LABOR FORCE, 


BY DETAILED ARTIST OCCUPATION AND GENDER 




Total with 


Percent with 




Total ECLF(1) 


Earnings (2) 


Earnings 


Median Earnings 


Male 








Total ECLFage 16 + 








Total 








1970 49,536,472 


48,593,009 


98.1 % 


$ 7,620 


1980 59,753,512 


57,971,180 


97.02% 


$14,422 


1990 66,431,987 


62,978,000 


94.80% 


$21,522 


Professional Specialty Occup. 








1970 6,992,250 


6,929,281 


99.10% 


$10,617 


1980 6,247,708 


6,153,681 


98.50% 


$19,918 


1990 7,706,256 


6,502,000 


84.37% 


$36,942 


All Artists (3) 








1970 469,742 


459,822 


97.89% 


$ 8,768 


1980 749,200 


703,840 


93.90% 


$14,219 


1990 1,043,901 


984,063 


94.20% 


$21,600 


Painters, Sculptors, etc. 








1970 65,225 


63,625 


97.55% 


$ 8,893 


1980 78,440 


74,680 


95.21% 


$12,684 


1990 101,067 


81,720 


80.86% 


$18,187 


Female 








♦Total ECLFage 14+ 








Total 








1970 30,534,658 


28,428,072 


93.10% 


$ 3,646 


1980 44,304,473 


41,602,227 


93.90% 


$ 7,237 


1990 56,041,572 


49,452,000 


88.24% 


$12,150 


Professional Specialty Occup. 








1970 4,674,716 


4,496,380 


96.19% 


$ 6,030 


1980 6,027,432 


5,841,389 


96.91% 


$11,172 


1990 8,941,432 


6,655,000 


74.43% 


$23,113 


All Artists (3) 








1970 201,862 


187,125 


92.72% 


$ 3,637 


1980 533,260 


464,480 


87.10% 


$ 6,712 


1990 930,707 


830,449 


89.20% 


$11,096 


Painters, Sculptors, etc. 








1970 37,375 


34,675 


92.78% 


$ 3,682 


1980 72,920 


66,540 


91.25% 


$ 6,612 


1990 111,695 


80,240 


71.84% 


$22,041 


*Please note change in ECLF age 


for females. (1) From Beresford Table 1 . (2) From 


Statistical Abstracts, 1992, Table 


656, page 414. 


(3) Beresford Tables 5 &6 and 


Citro & Caquin. 









72 I Artists in the Work Force 



education, according to the Census, seemed to be holding steady or rising slightly, 
and many more were self-employed, with percentages much higher than other kinds 
of artists. The median income for male painters and craft artists grew more slowly 
than for the total male work force, male professionals and female painters and craft 
artists (whose median income more than tripled since 1980). Finally, using figures 
that should be scrutinized further, it appears that part-year female painters and craft 
artists earned more than their full-year counterparts. 

Discrete Surveys 

The Research Center for Arts and Culture conducted the three studies that 
follow, searching for an understanding of what artists do which is closer to their own 
perception than the Census. In addition to asking which occupation provided the 
artist's major income and number of hours worked, the survey asked: 

• the occupation that is primary to the respondent 

• the occupation that is most important to the respondent 

• the major area of concentration 

• If the respondent considers himself/herself to be a professional artist. 

In the three RCAC surveys, 93 percent of the respondents to The Artist's Work- 
Related, Human and Social Services Questionnaire consider themselves professional 
artists; in Information on Artists, 89 percent consider themselves professional artists 
and in the Artists Training and Career Project, 91 percent of the painters and 86 
percent of the craftspeople consider themselves professional artists. 

A fourth study, the Artists and Jobs Questionnaire, commissioned by the New 
England Foundation on the Arts and done by Wassail, Alper and McCabe, is based 
on more traditional Census-based definitions. 

The Artist's Work- Related, Human and Social Services Questionnaire 
(1986) 

The major area of concentration in this study is listed as painting, sculpture and 
crafts, but since 86 percent of the 164 respondents claimed the occupation that is 
primary to them is "artist," and since there are relatively small numbers to begin with, 
these findings must be viewed with caution. 

This was a pilot study for the Research Center for Arts and Culture. Two of its 
contributions were broadening the base of investigation to a larger geographic area 
and the realization that studies which isolated particular types of artists would allow 
for a much more specific investigation. 

• Age and Gender. The mean age for these artists was 38 (standard deviation 
9.969) and the median, 36. (The mean is used as well as the median age in this 
chapter because in most cases the difference of two or more years is significant.) 
Half were male and half female. 



Artists Who Work with Their Hands A Trend Report 1 970 to 1 990 I 73 



• Education. Eleven percent of these artists had some college; 23 percent had at 
least four years of college and 63 percent had some graduate education. By 
gender, 29.1 percent of males and 16.1 percent of females had four years of 
college; 55.6 percent of males and 69.5 percent of females had some graduate 
education. 

• Income. Twenty-five percent of these artists earned $500 or less from their art in 
1985 while 12 percent earned over $20,000 from their art. By gender, 28.6 
percent males and 21.4 percent females earned $0-500; 26.8 percent males and 
24.9 percent females earned between $501 and $3,000; 18.8 percent males and 

21.5 percent females earned between $3,001 and $7,000; 3.6 percent males and 
10.7 percent females earned between $7,001 and $12,000; 9 percent males and 

11.6 percent females earned between $12,001 and $20,000 and 12.5 percent 
males and 9.8 percent females earned over $20,000. 

Information on Artists Survey (1988) 

Data presented here are for all artists and for the category of painters, sculptors 
and craftspeople for age, education, income and art-related costs. These same 
breakdowns are applied to Boston and New York, two of 10 sites surveyed. Tables 5 
through 8 show data for all artist respondents from the broad variety of art fields used 
for the study. The text below will focus on the subject of this report, artists who work 
with their hands. 



Age. The mean age for painters, sculptors and craftspeople is 38.6, the median, 37. 
Education. Table 5 displays the educational attainment of these artists. When 







TABLE 5 










INFORMATION ON ARTISTS 






Education 


High School 


High School 


Some 


College 


Graduate 


Total 




1-3 


4 


College 


Degree 


Degree 


Responses 




(%) 


(%) 


(%) 


(%) 


(%) 




All Artists 


0.70 


2.15 


16.25 


42.10 


38.65 




Male 


0.80 


2.30 


18.80 


39.30 


38.60 


1664 


Female 


0.60 


2.00 


13.70 


44.90 


38.70 


2166 


"Painters, et. al" 


0.55 


2.65 


13.05 


40.60 


43.05 




Male 


0.50 


3.20 


15.90 


35.50 


44.80 


603 


Female 


0.60 


2.10 


10.20 


45.70 


41.30 


1003 


All Artists: Boston 


0.60 


1.45 


17.50 


43.35 


42.40 




Male 


0.60 


1.30 


15.60 


42.20 


40.30 


154 


Female 


n/a 


1.60 


19.40 


44.50 


44.50 


191 


Painters: Boston 




2.70 


8.70 


44.80 


43.85 




Male 


n/a 


2.60 


13.20 


>-v80 


47.40 


38 


Female 


n/a 


2.80 


4.20 


~>2.80 


40.30 


72 


All Artists: New York 


0.60 


1.50 


12.60 


41.65 


43.65 




Male 


0.50 


1.90 


16.00 


39.30 


42.20 


206 


Female 


0.70 


1.10 


9.20 


44.00 


45.10 


284 


Painters: New York 




2.50 


».70 


38.40 


50.70 




Male 


n/a 


2.50 


13.80 


30.00 


53.80 


80 


Female 


n/a 


n/a 


5.60 


46.80 


47.60 


126 



74 I Artists in the Work Force 



broken down by gender, of male painters, sculptors and craftspeople, 35.5 
percent have college degrees and another 44.8 percent have graduate degrees. For 
females, 45.7 percent have college degrees and another 41.3 percent have 
graduate degrees. 

Income. Table 6 shows total income as an artist and total gross income in 1988. 
For male painters, sculptors and craftspeople, individual income as an artist 
shows 25.4 percent earning $500 or less; 26.6 percent earning berween $501 and 
$3,000; 14.3 percent between $3,001 and $7,000; 9.9 percent between $7,001 
and $12,000; 7.9 percent between $12,001 and $20,000; 9.7 percent between 
$20,001 and $40,000 and 6.2 percent over $40,000. 

For female painters, sculptors and craftspeople, individual income as an 
artist shows 26.9 percent earning $500 or less; 33.7 percent earning between 
$501 and $3,000; 15.8 percent between $3,001 and $7,000; 9.7 percent 
between $7,001 and $12,000; 6.9 percent between $12,001 and $20,000; 5.3 
percent between $20,001 and $40,000 and 1.7 percent over $40,000. (Totals 
may not equal 100 percent due to rounding.) 

Total Gross Income. For male painters, sculptors and craftspeople, total gross 
income is: 7.1 percent earning $5,000 or less; 12.3 percent earning between 
$5,001 and $10,000; 32 percent between $10,001 and $20,000; 20.6 percent 
between $20,001 and $30,000; 15 percent between $30,001 and $40,000 and 
13 percent over $40,000, similar findings to those for all artists in this study. 

For female painters, sculptors and craftspeople, total gross income in 1988 
is: 13.8 percent earning $5,000 or less; 21.2 earning between $5,001 and 
$10,000; 33.5 percent between $10,001 and $20,000; 17 percent between 
$20,001 and $30,000; 8.8 between $30,001 and $40,000 and 5.7 percent over 
$40,000. (Totals may not equal 100 percent due to rounding.) 
Artists' Costs. Relevant to earnings are the costs for space to work and 
maintenance of one's craft. About two-thirds of the respondents answered 
questions on costs. In terms of monthly costs for space, over two-thirds of the 
artists, including painters/craftspeople, paid under $500 per month for 
workspace in 1988. (See Table 7.) 

Annual art-related expenses (excluding workspace) include art supplies and 
services, tools and equipment, capital improvements, training and maintaining 
their craft, publicity, marketing, travel and shipping. For painters, sculptors and 
craftspeople, 86.2 percent of males and 78.6 percent of females spent under 
$500 on their annual art-related expenses in 1988. Another 10.3 percent of male 
painters, sculptors and craftspeople and 19.5 percent of females spent between 
$501 and $2,500. Thus in 1988 over 89 percent of these artists spent $2,500 or 
less on their art-related expenses. 

Comments and informal information indicate that, especially for visual 
artists in need of expensive equipment like kilns, often their "other"employment 
(i.e. teaching) fills this need. This information is reinforced by the Artists and Jobs 
Questionnaire done in New England in the early 1980s. 



Artists Who Work with Their Hands A Trend Report, 1 970 to 1 990 I 75 









TABLE 6 












IOA TOTAL INCOME AS AN ARTIST 








$0-500 


$501- 


$3001 $7,001- 


$12,001- 


$20,001- 


$40,001 


Total 






3,000 


7,000 12,000 


20,000 


40,000 


+ 


Responses 




(%) 


(%) 


(%) (%) 


(%) 


(%) 


(%) 




All Artists 


26.50 


26.55 


13.75 10.30 


9.45 


9.35 


4.15 




Male 


25.20 


24.10 


13.20 9.90 


10.40 


11.60 


5.60 


1660 


Female 


27.80 


29.00 


14.30 10.70 


8.50 


7.10 


2.70 


2165 


"Painters, et. al" 


26.15 


30.15 


15.05 9.80 


7.40 


7.50 


3.95 




Male 


25.40 


26.60 


14.30 9.90 


7.90 


9.70 


6.20 


595 


Female 


26.90 


33.70 


15.80 9.70 


6.90 


5.30 


1.70 


1002 


All Artists: Boston 


29.95 


28.95 


13.00 8.60 


8.75 


8.55 


2.15 




Male 


29.50 


24.40 


14.70 9.00 


7.70 


10.90 


3.80 


156 


Female 


30.40 


33.50 


11.30 8.20 


9.80 


6.20 


0.50 


194 


Painters: Boston 


27.10 


36.65 


15.80 11.10 


4.70 


4.60 






Male 


28.20 


30.80 


17.90 15.40 


2.60 


5.10 




39 


Female 


26.00 


42.50 


13.70 6.80 


6.80 


4.10 




73 


All Artists: New York 20.95 


29.90 


11.15 9.40 


12.00 


10.30 






Male 


18.10 


32.40 


8.80 11.30 


13.70 


10.30 


5.40 


204 


Female 


23.80 


27.40 


13.50 7.50 


10.30 


10.30 


7.10 


281 


Painters: New York 


24.95 


33.10 


15.10 8.20 


9.60 


7.60 


1.45 




Male 


25.30 


32.90 


12.70 10.10 


8.90 


8.90 


1.30 


79 


Female 


24.60 


33.30 


17.50 6.30 


10.30 


6.30 


1.60 


126 




IOA TOTAL GROSS INCOME FOR 1988 






$0-500 


$0- 


$5001 


$10001- ! 


£20,001- 


$30,001- 


$40,001 


Total 




5,000 


10,00C 


I 20,000 


30,000 


40,000 


+ 


Responses 




(%) 


(%) 


(%) 


(%) 


(%) 


(%) 


(%) 


All Artists 


8.45 


15.15 


32.90 


21.85 


11.80 






Male 


5.70 


11.20 


31.60 


23.70 


14.40 


13.40 


1,653 


Female 


11.20 


19.10 


34.20 


20.00 


9.20 


6.40 


2,140 


"Painters, et. al" 


10.45 


16.75 


32.75 


18.80 


11.90 






Male 


7.10 


12.30 


32.00 


20.60 


15.00 


13.00 


593 


Female 


13.80 


21.20 


33.50 


17.00 


8.80 


6.40 


995 


All Artists: Boston 


7.30 


13.10 


31.95 


22.05 


14.80 






Male 


7.20 


6.50 


34.60 


19.60 


16.30 


15.70 


156 


Female 


7.40 


19.70 


29.30 


24.50 


13.30 


5.90 


194 


Painters: Boston 


6.85 


15.85 


39.60 


19.15 


10.25 






Male 


5.40 


8.10 


45.90 


21.60 


10.80 


8.10 


37 


Female 


8.30 


23.60 


33.30 


16.70 


9.70 


8.30 


72 


All Artists: New York 5.20 


11.75 


29.00 


26.45 


16.20 






Male 


5.40 


7.80 


28.80 


28.30 


17.10 


12.70 


205 


Female 


5.00 


15.70 


29.20 


24.60 


15.30 


10.30 


281 


Painters: New York 


8.50 


15.15 


33.25 


20.80 


15.95 






Male 


7.60 


1 1 .40 


34.20 


20.30 


17.70 


8.90 


79 


Female 


9.40 


18.90 


32.30 


21.30 


14.20 


3.90 


127 



76 I Artists in the Work Force 









TABLE 7 








INFORMATK 


;: PAINTERS, 


SCULPTORS, & CRAFTSPEOPLE 






Costs: Monthly 


Costs of Workspace 








$0-99 


$100- 


$200 


$300- 


$400- $500- 


$600- 


700+ 






199 


299 


399 


499 599 


699 






(%) 


(%) 


(%) 


(%) 


(%) (%) 


(%) 




All Artists 


12.60 


22.60 


19.60 


12.05 


10.35 6.10 


5.00 


10.60 


Male 


11.30 


19.90 


17.60 


13.30 


11.80 5.70 


5.90 


14.50 


Female 


0.14 


25.40 


21.60 


12.80 


8.90 6.50 


4.10 


6.70 


"Painters, et. al" 


18.60 


22.60 


17.40 


11.80 


8.70 6.10 


4.70 


10.05 


Male 


18.00 


20.90 


17.00 


11.90 


9.30 6.00 


5.20 


11.60 


Female 


19.20 


24.30 


17.80 


11.70 


8.10 6.20 


4.20 


8.50 


Boston 
















All Artists 


18.35 


21.70 


22.45 


12.20 


6.60 4.00 


6.55 


8.15 


Male 


14.90 


22.70 


24.80 


12.10 


7.10 3.50 


6.40 


8.50 


Female 


21.80 


20.70 


20.10 


12.30 


6.10 4.50 


6.70 


7.80 


Painters et al 


11.00 


20.50 


22.65 


18.50 


6.80 5.50 


6.85 


8.20 


Male 


8.10 


21.60 


18.90 


16.20 


10.80 5.40 


8.10 


10.80 


Female 


13.90 


19.40 


26.40 


20.80 


2.80 5.60 


5.60 


5.60 


New York 
















All Artists 


8.25 


16.65 


16.90 


15.15 


12.65 9.55 


6.85 


14.15 


Male 


8.70 


15.80 


14.70 


16.30 


13.60 8.20 


7.10 


15.80 


Female 


7.80 


17.50 


19.10 


14.00 


11.70 10.90 


6.60 


12.50 


Painters et al. 


2.15 


14.75 


17.95 


15.90 


17.55 9.60 


8.80 


13.35 


Male 


2.60 


11.70 


13.00 


18.20 


18.20 6.50 


11.70 


18.20 


Female 


1.70 


17.80 


22.90 


13.60 


16.90 12.70 


5.90 


8.50 


Costs: Annual Cost of Training & Maintaining Artwork 






$0- 




$501 


$2,501- 


$5,000+ 








500 




2,500 


5,000 










(%) 




(%) 


(%) 


(%) 




All Artists 




69.00 




25.40 


3.80 


1.80 




Male 




72.90 




20.90 


4.10 


2.10 




Female 




65.10 




29.90 


3.50 


1.50 




Painters et al. 




82.40 




14.90 


1.35 


1.35 




Male 




86.20 




10.30 


1.60 


1.90 




Female 




78.60 




19.50 


1.10 


0.80 




Boston 
















All Artists 




68.50 




25.85 


4.55 


1.10 




Male 




74.70 




18.70 


4.40 


2.20 




Female 




62.30 




33.00 


4.70 


0.00 




Painters et al. 




84.25 




12.15 


1.20 


2.40 




Male 




90.50 




4.80 


0.00 


4.80 




Female 




78.00 




19.50 


2.40 


0.00 




New York 
















All Artists 




64.40 




25.20 


7.30 


3.15 




Male 




65.60 




24.00 


7.20 


3.20 




Female 




63.20 




26.40 


7.40 


3.10 




Painters et al. 




79.05 




19.25 


1.70 


0.00 




Male 




81.80 




18.20 


0.00 


0.00 




Female 




76.30 




20.30 


3.40 


0.00 





Artists Who Work with Their Hands A Trend Report, 1 970 to 1 990 I 77 



• Professionalism. Eighty-nine percent of all artists in this survey consider 
themselves to be professional artists. To gain a better understanding of how 
artists view professionalism, a three-way division was used which included both 
external and self- assessment criteria. The groups of these definitions were done 
after the data were collected to identify three main areas: 

1 . The Marketplace Definition. 

The person makes his/her living as an artist. 

The person receives some income from his/her work as an artist. 

The person intends to make his/her living as an artist. 

2. The Education and Affiliation Definition. 

The person belongs to an artists' association (discussion group, artists' group, 

artists' co-op, etc.) 

The person belongs to an artists' union or guild. 

The person has been formally educated in the fine, creative, literary or 

performing arts. 

3. The Self and Peer Definition 

The person is recognized by his/her peers as an artist. 

The person considers himself/herself to be an artist. 

The person spends a substantial amount of time working at art. 

The person has a special talent. 

The person has an inner drive to make art. 

The person receives some public recognition for his/her art. 

The above criteria were used in two questions, one which asked respondents to 
identify their three most important choices in rank order in considering "someone to 
be a professional artist," and another, similarly ranked, in which these "reasons apply 
to you." The figures below show the overwhelming first choice in the Self-Definition 
category. 

IOA: IMPORTANT CRITERIA FOR PROFESSIONAL ARTIST 
(When considering someone else to be a professional) 

Painters Craft Artists All Respondents 

Market Definition 18% 26.1% 23.1% 

Peer/Educ Definition 10.3% 12.5% 12.5% 

Self-Definition 71.7% 61.4% 64.4% 

IOA: IMPORTANT CRITERIA FOR PROFESSIONAL ARTIST-Self 

Painters Craft Artists All Respondents 

Market Definition 16.1% 36.7% 22.8% 

Peer/Educ Definition 7.2% 7.6% 9.3% 

Self-Definition 76.8% 55.7% 68.0% 



78 I Artists in the Work Force 



Information on Artists: Boston and New York 

Boston had an artist population of 20,839 in 1980 according to the Census. The 
'80s were a time for increased public funding through the Massachusetts Council for 
the Arts and Humanities and progress on many levels for artists. The number of 
artists of all kinds surveyed in Boston total 350; of those 157 were 
painters/sculptors/craftspeople, the focus of the data below. 

• Age. The mean age for all Boston painters, sculptors and craftspeople is 36.4; the 
median age, 35. 

• Education. For male Boston painters, sculptors and craftspeople, 36.8 percent 
have college degrees, 47.4 percent have graduate degrees; for females 52.8% have 
college degrees, 40.3 percent have graduate degrees (Table 5). 

• Income as Artists. For male Boston painters, sculptors and craftspeople, 
individual earnings as an artist look like this for 39 respondents: 28.2 percent 
earning $500 or less; 30.8 percent earning between $501 and $3,000; 17.9 
percent earning between $3,001 and $7,000; 15.4 percent earning between 
$7,001 and $12,000; 2.6 percent earning between $12,001 and $20,000; 5.1 
percent earning between $20,001 and $40,000 and no one earning over $40,000 
(Table 6). 

For female Boston painters, sculptors and craftspeople, individual earnings 
look like this for 73 respondents: 26 percent $500 or less; 42.5 percent earning 
between $501 and $3,000; 13.7 percent earning between $3,001 and $7,000; 
6.8 percent earning between $7,001 and $12,000; 6.8 percent earning between 
$12,001 and $20,000; 4.1 percent earning between $20,001 and $40,000 and 
no one earning over $40,000." 

• Total Gross Income. For 37 male Boston painters, sculptors and craftspeople, 
total gross income in 1988: 5.4 percent earned less than $5,000; 8.1 percent 
earned between $5,001 and $10,000; 45.9 percent between $10,001 and 
$20,000; 21.6 percent between $20,000 and $30,000; 10.8 percent between 
$30,000 and $40,000 and 8.1 percent over $40,000 (Table 6). 

For 72 female Boston painters, sculptors and craftspeople, total gross income 
in 1988: 8.3 percent earned less than $5,000; 23.6 percent earned between 
$5,001 and $10,000; 33.3 percent between $10,001 and $20,000; 16.7 percent 
between $40,000 and $30,000; 9.7 percent between $30,001 and $40,000 and 
8.3 percent over $40,000. 

• Artists' Costs. Of 21 male Boston painters, sculptors and craftspeople and 41 
females, virtually all pay less than $2,500 in annual art-related expenses. Over 
three-quarters of male and female members of these professions pay less than 
$400 a month for workspace (Table 7). 

New York 

The artist population of New York City, according to the 1980 U.S. Census, was 
112,954. Of these 15,640 were painters, sculptors, craft artists and artist 
printmakers. The number of all artists surveyed in New York totals 485, of which 290 



Artists Who Work with Their Hands A Trend Report 1 970 to 1 990 I 79 



were painters, sculptors and craftspeople. The 1980s saw a huge infusion of money 
in the for-profit art market arena with prices soaring for visual art. There was an 
explosion of East Village galleries and commercial spaces in Soho, Noho and Tribeca 
as the line between profit and nonprofit spaces became thinner. Museums asked 
avant-garde artists to donate one-of-a-kind objects for reproduction, coming 
perilously closer to commercial activity. Non-mainstream museums collaborated on 
shows featuring a range and breadth of artists new to many New Yorkers. New York 
was considered by many the seat of the art market. 

• Age. The mean age for all New York painters, sculptors and craftspeople is 37.6 
percent; the median age is 36. 

• Education. Table 5 details the spread between males and females for college 
degrees for painters, sculptors and craftspeople, with 30 percent of the males and 
46.8 percent of the females having college degrees. At the graduate level 53.8 
percent of the males have graduate degrees, and 47.6 of the females. 

• Income as Artists. Individual earnings as an artist look like this for 79 male New 
York painters, sculptors and craftspeople: 25.3 percent earning $500 or less; 32.9 
percent earning between $501 and $3,000; 12.7 percent earning between $3,001 
and $7,000; 10.1 percent earning between $7,001 and $12,000; 8.9 percent 
earning between $12,001 and $20,000; 8 percent earning between $20,001 and 
$40,000 and 1.3 percent earning over $40,000. 

For 126 female New York painters/craftspeople, individual earnings look like 
this: 24.6 percent earning $500 or less; 33.3 percent earning between $501 and 
$3,000; 17.5 percent earning between $3,001 and $7,000; 6.3 percent earning 
between $7,001 and $12,000; 10.3 percent earning between $12,001 and 
$20,000; 6.3 percent earning between $20,001 and $40,000 and 1.6 percent 
earning over $40,000. 12 

• Total Gross Income. For all 79 male New York painters/craftspeople, total gross 
income in 1988: 7.6 percent earned less than $5,000; 11.4 percent earned 
between $5,001 and $10,000; 34.2 percent between $10,001 and $20,000; 20.3 
percent between $20,001 and $30,000; 17.7 percent between $30,001 and 
$40,000 and 8.4 percent over $40,000. 

For all 127 female painters/craftspeople, total gross income in 1988: 9.4 
percent earned less than $5,000; 18.9 percent earned between $5,001 and 
$10,000; 32.3 percent between $10,001 and $20,000; 21.8 percent between 
$20,001 and $30,000; 14.2 percent between $30,001 and $40,000 and 3.9 
percent over $40,000. 

• Artists' Costs. Of 44 male New York painters, sculptors and craftspeople and 59 
females, virtually all pay less than $2,500 in annual art-related expenses. Of 77 
males, over half pay less than $400 a month for workspace, while over half of the 
118 females pay less than $400 per month for workspace (Table 7). 

Artists Training and Career Project (ATC)-1 990-91 

• Age, Gender, Ethnic Background. The mean age for all painters and 
craftspeople from this 1990-91 survey, to which 960 painters and 1,301 craft 



80 I Artists in the Work Force 



artists responded, is 43.1 for painters and 43.4 for craftspeople. (Standard 
deviation 11.5-12.3.) The median age is 41 for both painters and craftspeople. 
As to gender, 58 percent of the painters and 54 percent of the craftspeople are 
female, while 42 percent of the painters and 46 percent of craftspeople are male. 
Median age for male painters is 38 and for craftsmen, 42. Median age for female 
painters in 40 and for craftswomen, 41. 

Regarding ethnic background, for painters 86 percent are white, fewer than 
2 percent are American Indian, more than 2 percent are Asian, 3 percent are 
black, fewer than 2 percent are Hispanic and 5 percent are "other." For 
craftspeople, 92 percent are white, fewer than 1 percent American Indian, 1 
percent each Asian and Hispanic, more than 1 percent black, and 5 percent 
other. 

Education. Regarding degrees, 40.6 percent of the painters have a college degree 
and 42.5 percent a graduate degree; 38.3 percent of the craftspeople have a 
college degree and 33.6 a graduate degree. By gender, 33.4 percent of male 
painters and 45.7 percent of women painters, and 31.5 percent of male 
craftspeople and 45.2 percent of female craftspeople have a college degree; 45.6 
percent of male painters, 34.2 percent of male craftspeople, 40.2 percent of 
female painters and 33 percent of female craftspeople have graduate degrees 
(Table 8). 

Income as Artists. For painters in 1990, 56 percent of the males and 62 percent 
of the females earned less than $3,000 as artists, and 65 percent of the males and 
78 percent of the females earned less than $7,000 as artists. For craftspeople in 
1989, 36 percent of the males and 39 percent of the females earned less than 
$3,000 as artists and 47 percent of the males and 53 percent of the females 
earned less than $7,000 as artists (Table 8). 

Total Gross Income. For male painters in 1990, 8.6 percent earned under 
$5,000; 13.3 percent earned between $5,001 and $10,000; 25.1 percent earned 
between $10,001 and $20,000; 20.2 percent earned between $20,001 and 
$30,000; 14.4 percent earned between $30,001 and $40,000; 16.7 percent 
earned between $40,001 and $60,000 and 1.7 percent earned over $60,000. 

For female painters in 1990, more than one third earned under $10,000; 
26.7 percent earned between $10,001 and $20,000; 19.8 percent earned 
between $20,001 and $30,000; 10.8 earned between $30,001 and $40,000; 7.5 
percent earned between $40,001 and $60,000 and 1.3 percent earned over 
$60,000. 

For male craftspeople in 1989, 11.5 percent earned under $5,000; 6.1 
percent earned between $5,001 and $10,000; 14.3 percent earned between 
$10,001 and $20,000; 17 percent earned between $20,001 and $30,000; 19.1 
percent earned between $30,001 and $40,000, 32 percent earned over $40,000. 

For female craftspeople in 1989, 19.8 percent earned under $5,000; 14.3 
percent earned between $5,001 and $10,000; 21.8 percent earned between 
$10,001 and $20,000; 18 percent earned between $20,001 and $30,000; 11.1 
percent earned between $30,001 and $40,000, 15 percent earned over $40,000. 



Artists Who Work with Their Hands A Trend Report, 1970 to 1990 I 81 







TABLE 8 








ARTISTS TRAINING & CAREER PROJECT: PAINTERS & CRAFTS ARTISTS 


Education 


High 


High 


Some College 


Graduate 




School 
1-3 


School 
4 


College I 


degree 


Degree 


Painters (total) 


0.60 


3.20 


13.00 


40.60 


42.50 


Male 


1.40 


3.80 


15.30 


33.40 


45.60 


Female 


0.00 


2.80 


11.40 


45.70 


40.20 


Craft Artists (total) 


0.60 


7.10 


19.60 


38.35 


33.60 


Male 


0.80 


9.30 


23.70 


31.50 


34.20 


Female 


0.40 


5.30 


10.00 


45.20 


33.00 




TOTAL INCOME AS AN ARTIST: 








$0- $501 $3,001 


$7,001 


$12,00 


1 $20,001 


$40,000 




500 3,000 7,000 


12,000 


20,000 


40,000 




Painters (1990) 


27.90 29.00 15.70 


9.90 


7.70 


6.20 


3.60 


Male 


22.80 27.10 15.10 


8.50 


9.70 


9.70 


7.10 


Female 


31.60 30.30 16.20 


10.90 


6.10 


3.70 


1.00 


Craft Artists (1989) 


20.50 18.10 12.60 


8.30 


11.80 


13.80 


15.90 


Male 


21,80 14.40 11.10 


6.40 


10.30 


15.00 


21.70 


Female 


18.20 21.20 13.80 


9.80 


13.10 


12.80 


11.00 




TOTAL GROSS INCOME FOR 1988: 








$0- 


$5,001 


$10,001 


$20,001 


$30,001 


$40,000 




5,000 


10,000 


20,000 


30,000 


40,000 


+ 


Painters (total) 


14.00 


14.90 


26.00 


20.00 


12.30 


12.90 


Male 


8.60 


13.30 


25.10 


20.20 


14.40 


18.40 


Female 


17.90 


16.00 


26.70 


19.80 


10.80 


8.80 


Craft Artists (total) 


15.90 


10.50 


18.30 


17.50 


14.80 


22.80 


Male 


11.50 


6.10 


14.30 


17.00 


19.10 


32.00 


Female 


19.80 


14.30 


21.80 


18.00 


11.10 


15.00 




GROSS HOUSEHOLD INCOME FOR 1988: 






$0- 


$5,001 


$10,001 


$20,001 


$30,001 


$40,000 




5,000 


10,000 


20,000 


30,000 


40,000 


+ 


Painters (total) 


4.30 


8.10 


15.20 


19.30 


16.30 


36.70 


Male 


4.10 


8.60 


18.00 


20.10 


16.60 


32.50 


Female 


4.40 


7.80 


13.20 


18.70 


16.20 


39.70 


Craft Artists (total) 


12.35 


3.35 


9.70 


15.00 


15.65 


44.00 


Male 


11.50 


2.80 


9.70 


15.10 


15.00 


45.90 


Female 


13.20 


3.90 


9.70 


14.90 


16.30 


42.10 



Table 9 shows total gross household income for these artists. 
• Professionalism. In this survey 91.2 percent of the painters and 85.7 percent of 
the craftspeople consider themselves professionals. (See Information on Artists 
Survey on professionalism discussed earlier for criteria and definitions.) 

Artists and Jobs Questionnaire-1980 



This study commissioned by the New England Foundation for the Arts will be 
briefly summarized here. Its findings are for 291 painters, sculptors and craftspeople 
from the Boston area. 



82 I Artists in the Work Force 



TABLE 9 
ARTISTS AND JOBS QUESTIONNAIRE (1980) 


Income as Artists 

$0-500 

(%) 


$501- 

3,000 

(%) 


$3001 
7,000 

(%) 


$7,001- 
12,000 

(%) 


$12,001- 
20,000 

(%) 


$20,001- 
40,000 

(%) 


$40,001 

+ 
(%) 


Total 
Responses 


All Artists 

Male 
Female 


43.00 
37.00 
49.00 


24.50 
20.00 
29.00 


13.15 
14.00 
12.30 


9.60 

14.00 

5.20 


3.10 
3.00 
3.20 


5.15 
9.00 
1.30 


1.50 
3.00 
0.00 


255 
100 
155 


Total Gross 


ncome 


$0- 
5,000 


$5,001 
10,000 


$10,001 
20,000 


$20,001 
30,000 


$30,001 
40,000 


$40,000 

+ 


Total 
Responses 


All Artists 

Male 
Female 




17.75 
12.10 
23.40 


31.85 

27.30 
36.40 


60.50 
29.30 
31.20 


9.80 

13.10 

6.50 


7.00 

12.10 

1.90 


6.05 
6.10 
6.00 


243 
96 

147 


Total Gross 
Household I 


icome 


$0- 
5,000 


$5,001 
10,000 


$10,001 
20,000 


$20,001 
30,000 


$30,001 
40,000 


$40,000 

+ 


Total 
Responses 


All Artists 

Male 
Female 




5.45 
5.10 
5.80 


20.40 
22.20 
18.60 


24.90 
22.20 
27.60 


17.15 
20.20 
14.10 


17.00 
14.10 
19.90 


15.15 
16.20 
14.10 


241 

96 

145 



• Age and Gender. The mean age for 287 Boston painters/craftspeople is 37.3; the 
median is 34. For males, the mean age is 36.3; the median, 33. For females, the 
mean is 38.7; the median, 35.5 

• Education. For male Boston painters/craftspeople 8.4 percent have a high school 
education; 28 percent some college; 45.8 percent a college degree and 57.9 percent 
a graduate degree. For females, 16.5 percent have some college; 47.4 percent a 
college degree and 62.9 percent have a graduate degree. 

• Income. Income as artist and total gross income for Boston area artists is seen in 
Tables 6 and 7 and will not be detailed separately here. Analysts of the findings 
on income seemed shocked at what artists earn, commenting "Find out why 
these artists earn so little." Proof of such meager earnings: for half the males and 
almost one- third of these female artists worked a full year to earn under $500 
from their art. 

Discrepancies 



Why is there a discrepancy between the findings of all these discrete surveys and 
the Census in the area of education? Recalling the definitional problems of the 
Census and examples of tattoo artists and cardpainters being included as painters, 
one can see how the numbers become inflated with people whose data cannot be 
accurate markers for a large segment of the arts, whose information seems to be out 
of sync with everything else known. In fact, most studies of artists during the last 10 
years, outside of the Census, have clearly established the high degree of formal 
education, as well as its lack of corresponding income. 



Artists Who Work with Their Hands A Trend Report, 1 970 to 1 990 I 83 



Conclusion 

Figures that emerge from non-Census data about painters and craft artists 
described here are closer to the Census figures for Professional Specialty Occupations. 
Information gathered from every independent U.S. study reviewed here indicates a 
huge discrepancy between what researchers have identified directly from artists, and 
results from the 1990 Census. This is an area warranting substantial further 
investigation. 

Another important area for inquiry, and one that has rarely been addressed, is the 
income of artists who have abandoned art as an occupation compared to those who 
have stuck with it. In Talent and Achievement, the authors report that "for both men 
and women, the household income of those who had abandoned fine art by mid-life 
is higher than the income of those still involved." 13 In addition, the range of 
individual earnings for those artists who remained involved in fine art was $500- 
$80,000, "either a feast or a famine." 14 The ranges in Research Center Studies were 
similar. 

Many characteristics of artists emerge which have been explored by independent 
researchers and which bear continued attention. The authors of Talent and 
Achievement note that of the artists they studied, "at least since their early twenties, 
young people interested in art show a remarkable determination to shape their own 
destiny." 15 In addition, they comment on art as a profession: "Art differs from other 
occupations in that artists must find their jobs within themselves... the modern artist 
is expected to develop the content and the rules of his profession from within. 
External signposts are few, and ambiguous..." 16 By focusing solely on measures like 
earnings and education, analysis of artists is limited to "conventional goals of 
affluence and status" in the "roles prescribed by society. " r 

What the discrete surveys offer is another view targeting the artist population 
more narrowly than the Census and suggesting additional ways of looking at how 
artists view their occupations. These surveys also identify other areas of inquiry that 
broaden the picture of the artist in society. Finally, they indicate the need for a regular 
survey of artists, if possible, by the National Endowment for the Arts, which 
combines the more relevant aspects of the Census with other areas of inquiry, some 
of which have been identified in this document. 

Further investigation is needed to compare other data sets and sources to the 
Census findings, and to provide a broader landscape in which to think about artists 
in ways which are valuable to society, the government and to the artists themselves. 

Notes 

1. Judith Adler, "Artists Job Market Experiences," journal of Arts Management and 
Law, 13:3 (1983), pp. 177-182. 

2. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Jacob W. Getzels and Stephen P. Kahn, Talent and 
Achievement (Chicago, 1984) an unpublished report, p. 1. 

3. ibid. p. 10. 



84 I Artists in the Work Force 



4. Karen Kitchel, "Speakeasy." New Art Examiner, Summer 1992, pp. 13-15. 

5. C. Lynn Cowan, "The Artists' Condition from the Regional Perspective," in 
C.Richard Swaim (ed.), The Modern Muse: The Support and Condition of Artists 
(New York: ACA Books, 1989), pp. 33-45. 

6. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Jocob W. Getzels and Stephen P. Kahn, Talent and 
Achievement (Chicago, 1984) an unpublished report, p. 44-45. 

7. Howard Becker, Artworlds. (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1982), 
pp. 16-17. 

8. Joanna H. Stohs, "Intrinsic Motivation and Sustained Art Activity Among Male 
Fine and Applied Artists," Creativity Research Journal, 1992, Vol. 5, p. 247. 

9. Gaquin, Deidre, Constance Citro. Artists in the Workforce, 1950 to 1985. Research 

Division of the NEA, Washington DC. p. III-2. 

10. ibid, p. V-l. 

11 and 12. Numbers may not equal 100 percent due to rounding. The small 
numbers in this analysis must be taken with extreme caution; they are included 
here for their site-specific purposes, and because comparisons with larger studies 
indicate directions for the future. 

13. Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, Jacob W. Getzels and Stephen P. Kahn, Talent and 
Achievement (Chicago, 1984) an unpublished paper, p. 305. 

14. Ibid, p.306. 

15. 16 and 17. Ibid. 483. 

About the Authors 

Joan Jeffri is the founder and director of the Research Center for Arts and 
Culture at the School of the Arts at Columbia University, and the coordinator of the 
Graduate Program in Arts Administration at Teachers College, Columbia University. 
She is the author or editor of numerous studies on individual artists, as well as texts 
in the arts management field, including Artsmoney: Raising It, Saving It, and Earning 
It (University of Minnesota, 1989) and The Emerging Arts: Management, Survival, 
and Growth (Praeger, 1980). Her books on artists include a series of interview books: 
The Actor Speaks, The Craftsperson Speaks and The Painter Speaks (Greenwood, 1992, 
1993, 1994). For nine years she was an Executive Editor of The Journal of Arts 
Management and Law. 

Robert Greenblatt has worked as a consultant in communications, computer 
resources, survey design and analysis, and systems design for a diverse group of clients 
including Columbia University's Research Center for Arts and Culture, the American 
ORT Federation and the Palacio de Queluz in Portugal. He has taught mathematics, 
political science and quantitative research at Pace University, Brooklyn College, the 
State University of New York and Cornell University. He has a Ph. D. in 
Mathematics from Yale University. 



III. Employment and Earnings of 
Performing Artists, 1 970 to 1 990 

by Ann O. Kay and Stephyn G. W. Butcher 

Overview 

Artists, as a group, participate in the economy in a way unparalleled by the rest 
of the work force. Most workers are involved in creating the daily necessities of 
life. But artists are different. They participate in the creation of the culture. From 
architects to dancers, authors to actors, sculptors to musicians, no other group's 
impact is more immediate and pervasive, creating work spaces, homes, music, books, 
magazines, ads, artwork, television programs and movies. 

The significance of artists in the work force increased dramatically from 1970 to 
1990. In 1970 artists numbered 736,960 or 0.9 percent of the experienced civilian 
labor force (Table 1). By 1980 artists' numbers had jumped to 1,085,693, growing 



TABLE 1 






EXPERIENCED CIVILIAN, PROFESSIONAL SPECIALTY, ARTIST AND 
PERFORMING ARTIST LABOR FORCES. 1970, 1980, AND 1990. 




1970 


1980 


1990 


Experienced Civilian Labor Force (ECLF) 
Professional Specialty Occupations 
Artist Occupations 
Performing Artist Occupations 


79,801,605 

8,800,210 

736,960 

147,138 


104,057,985 

12,275,140 

1,085,693 

220,930 


122,473,499 

16,647,688 

1,671,277 

279,506 


Professionals as a percent of ECLF 


1 1 .0% 


1 1 .8% 


13.6% 


Artist Occupations as a percent of ECLF 
Artist Occupations as a percent of Professi 


0.9% 
onals 8.4% 


1 .0% 
8.8% 


1 .4% 
10.0% 


Performing Artists as a percent of Artists 


20.0% 


20.3% 


16.7% 


Source: Ellis and Beresiord, 1994. 



47.3 percent over the decade. Part of this increase reflected the overall labor force 
growth due to baby boomers continuing to enter the labor force, .md an increased 
number of women working. But the artist growth rate also reflected the increasing 
importance of the professional specialty occupations and the service sector in the 
U.S. economy. This trend continued during the 1 c )S0s. boosting the artist 
occupation numbers by 4.4 percent a year | Table 2). By 1990 there were more artists 
as a whole and as a proportion of the experienced civilian labor force And professional 
specialty occupations. The mixture of artist types changed during these two decades. 
Performing artists actors directors, musicians/composers .\nd dancers - fell from 23 
percent of all artists in 1 970 to IS percent bv 1990. During this time, "word" artists 
and visual and design artists occupations grew (aster. However, the number o( 
performing artists still increased at ,\n annual average rate of 3.3 percent from L970 



85 



86 I Artists in the Work Force 



TABLE 2 






GROWTH RATES OF THE EXPERIENCED CIVILIAN, PROFESSIONAL 


SPECIALTY, ARTIST & PERFORMING ARTISTS LABOR FORCES. 


1970 TO 1990 








1970-1980 
< 


1980-1990 
Dverall Growth Rate 


1970-1990 


Experienced Civilian Labor Force (ECLF) 


30.4% 


17.7% 


53.5% 


Professional Specialty Occupations 


39.5% 


35.6% 


89.2% 


Artist Occupations 


47.3% 


53.9% 


126.8% 


Performing Artists Occupations 


50.2% 


26.5% 


90.0% 




Average Annual Growth Rate 


Experienced Civilian Labor Force (ECLF) 


2.7% 


1 .6% 


2.2% 


Professional Specialty Occupations 


3.4% 


3.1% 


3.2% 


Artist Occupations 


4.0% 


4.4% 


4.2% 


Performing Artists Occupations 


4.1% 


2.4% 


3.3% 


Growth rates calculated from labor force data 


in previous 


table. 





to 1990, surpassing the growth rate of the national and professional specialty labor 
force. 

Data Sources and Conceptual Issues 

This report examines trends in the employment and earnings of performing 
artists and their geographic distribution from 1970 to 1990. It uses three sources for 
data: Census, survey and pension data. Each of these data sources has advantages and 
disadvantages which are discussed in the general introduction to this book and will 
not be repeated here. 

The Census data used is not from the Census form sent to most households, but 
from the Census long form questionnaire which is sent to about 15.9 percent of U.S. 
households. The long form has detailed questions about work history: occupation, 
sector, industry, last job held, current labor force status, weeks worked last year, usual 
work hours last year and detailed income from last year. The Census makes this data 
available to the public in the form of various sample subsets which include all the 
information except that which would identify the individual or household that 
provided it. 

Most of the analysis in this report is based, directly or indirectly, on the 5 percent 
PUMS or "Sample A" containing information on the population and households 
representing 5 percent of the total U.S. population (a subset of the 15.9 percent who 
received the Census long form). Since the 1980s, The National Endowment for the 
Arts has constructed "Artist Extract Files" from these PUMS files created by the 
Census. The Artist Extract Files (AEF) are subsets of the PUMS that cover all those 
persons in the PUMS who listed their occupation as one in the arts. The data for 
1970 in this report are based on Muriel Cantor's Employment Status of Performing 
Artists: 1970 to 1980 (Cantor, 1987) which used the AEF files. The 1980 and 1990 
data are from the authors' analyses of the AEF files. In all cases the actual counts 



Employment and Earnings of Performing Artists, 1970 to 1990 I 87 



which are the result of samples have been "normalized" to the actual Census counts 
for the occupation as a total. 

The main difficulties with using Census data to study the performing arts 
occupations are conceptual. The conclusions reached throughout this report are 
indicative rather than definitive for several reasons. The Census classifies the 
occupation of a worker according to the job he or she had the week previous to 
Census Day, April 1 . (Not all respondents fill out the form on April 1 , but this report 
ignores such variations and denotes the reference week as "Census Week.") If the 
worker had more than one job, the one at which he or she worked the most hours 
determines the job classification. If the worker is unemployed or not in the labor 
force, the occupation is classified as the last one held by the person. 

For performing artists, this can be problematic. With irregular work cycles and 
work availability, not all performing artists will be working in performing arts 
occupations the week before Census Day. If this is so, or if most of their hours that 
week were not at a performing arts job, then they are not counted as performing 
artists. Wriile excluding those "career" performing artists, the Census by design will 
include some "hobbyists" who happened to have earnings from their performing arts 
hobby during Census week - further blurring the head count. 

All of the employment and earnings information available from the Census 
becomes attached to the occupation in which the worker was classified. The Census 
does not clarify whether all the hours worked Census week were in an artist 
occupation, or if all the weeks worked or income received last year were in 
performing artist occupations. Therefore, when this report speaks of "actors' or 
dancers' earnings," not all the earnings will necessarily have come from acting or 
dancing. 

Performing Artist Surveys 

The second source of information on performing artists used in this report is 
from national surveys conducted by Ruttenberg et al. in 1977 and 1980. Members 
of the largest performing arts unions were surveyed about their careers and specific 
problems they experienced in the labor markets. Questions were tailored to the 
performing arts and therefore elicited answers much more illustrative of the work 
experience of such artists. 

The main disadvantage with the surveys is that the universe is restricted to union 
members and it is impossible to determine how their results compare with Census 
data where criteria for membership in a performing arts occupation differ. Because it 
is difficult to generalize the survey results to the performing artist labor force overall, 
the surveys are used mostly to clarify points upon which the Census is silent. 

Union Pension Records 

The third source of data used here is from pension and membership records for 
1990 and 1992 from the three principal actors' unions: Screen Actors Guild (SAG), 



88 I Artists in the Work Force 



Actors' Equity Association (AEA) and American Federation of Television and Radio 
Artists (AFTRA). (AFTRA excluded data on non-actor occupations represented by 
the union.) The American Federation of Musicians (AFM), the primary musicians' 
union, also provided some pension information on average earnings. These unions 
and the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees cooperated in producing 
this data, which contains no personal identification information on individuals. 

The pension and membership data show wage earnings solely from acting work, 
unlike the Census. As with the surveys, the universe is restricted to union members. 
However, through judicious use, these records supply a piece of the picture that is 
missing in Census data on performing artists. Using all the information available, it may 
not be possible to see the entire picture, but its outlines will be more clearly discernible. 

Employment and Earnings Analysis 

To identify trends in the performing arts occupations, this report examines the 
employment and earnings characteristics of these artists. In chief, these characteristics 
are labor force status, geographic distribution, class of employment, industry of 
employment, hours worked last week and usual hours last year, weeks worked last 
year and earnings. This study works with two universes. The first is based on current 
labor force status as of Census Week: employed, unemployed and not a participant. 
This universe or subsets of it will be used for geographic distribution, class of 
employment and industry of employment. The second universe is based on the work 
history for the previous year, regardless of whether the individual was employed, 
unemployed or not in the labor force at Census time. This universe is used for all 
characteristics based on the year previous to the Census, weeks and hours of work 
and earnings. (This second universe offers a richer data source than the one limited 
to Census week.) 

Each of these economic characteristics will be examined as of the 1990 Census and 
then, using the 1970 and 1980 Censuses and other data, the trends will be described. 

For the 1980 Census the Bureau of the Census created a new category of actors 
and directors to replace the former actors category. Although this means comparable 
data are not available over the entire 20-year span for actors-directors, some 
interesting trends are nonetheless brought to light. 

It bears repeating that Census counts are probably undercounts of the numbers 
of performing artists. Based on the Census long form questionnaire, the respondent's 
occupation is the one in which he or she had worked the most hours the week prior 
to the Census. In 1980 Ruttenberg et al. found that the preponderance of all 
performing artists, except dancers, held jobs outside the performing arts and worked 
more in those other jobs (Ruttenberg et al., 1981; pp. 64, 81). 

Labor Force Status 

In 1990 the Census counted 109,573 experienced civilians in the labor force 
working in the actors and directors occupation, about 39 percent of all performing 



Employment and Earnings of Performing Artists, 1970 to 1990 I 89 



artists in the labor force (see Table 3). This represented a 63 percent increase over 
1980 and a 173 percent increase since 1970. (The estimated number of actors and 
directors for 1970 is 40,201.) As with all of the performing arts occupations, the 
number of actors and directors in the labor force grew less rapidly in the 1980s than 
in the 1970s, although faster than the total experienced civilian labor force in general 
and professionals specifically. On an average annual basis, actors and directors 
increased by 5.3 percent per year during the 1970s and 5.0 percent during the 1980s. 
This slowdown was the smallest decline in growth rates for any performing arts 
occupation. 





TABLE 3 






PERFORMING ARTISTS IN THE EXPERIENCED CIVILIAN LABOR 
FORCE, 1990, AND AVERAGE ANNUAL GROWTH RATES DURING 

THE 1970s AND 1980s 


Occupation 

Actors and Directors 

Dancers 

Musicians and Composers 


Experienced 

Civilian Labor 

Force 1990 

109,573 

21,913 

148,020 


Average Annual 
Growth Rate 


1970-80 

5.3% 
5.9% 
3.5% 


1980-90 

5.0% 
5.2% 
0.5% 


Performing Artists 
All Artist Occupations 


279,506 
736,960 


4.1% 
4.0% 


2.4% 
4.4% 


Professional Specialty 
All 


16,647,688 
122,473,499 


3.4% 
2.7% 


3.1% 
1 .6% 


Source: Ellis and Beresford, 


1994. 







Dancers, the smallest performing artist occupation (7.9 percent of performing 
artists in 1990), nearly tripled their numbers during these 20 years. The number of 
dancers grew at 5.9 percent per year in the 1970s and 5.2 percent in the 1980s, so 
that by 1990 their numbers had increased by 196 percent, from 7,404 in 1970 to 
13,194 in 1980 to 21,913 in 1990. 

The slowest growth rate — and the most dramatic trend — occurred among 
musicians and composers (the Census group which also includes singers). In 1970 
the experienced civilian labor force included 99,533 musicians and composers, the 
largest group (68 percent) of all performing artists. In 1980 their numbers had 
increased to 140,556 for a growth rate during the 1970s of 3.5 percent per year. 
During the 1980s, however, the growth rate had slowed to merely 0.5 percent per 
year so that by the 1990 Census, musicians and composers had added slightly less 
than 8,000 new labor force participants (148,020 musicians and composers in 1990). 
This was the lowest growth rate of any artist occupation during the 1980s. By 1 990 the 
proportion of performing artists who were musicians and composers fell to 53 percent. 

Unemployment Rates 



Throughout the period of this study, performing artists' unemployment rates 
exceeded those of the civilian workforce as a whole. Of the three groups, actors and 



90 I Artists in the Work Force 



directors consistently had the highest unemployment rates; their rate in 1990 of 
about 13 percent was well over twice the national rate of 5.3 percent. Dancers were 
unemployed at a rate of 7 percent in 1990, while the rate for musicians and 
composers was 6 percent. For performing artists as a whole, unemployment that year 
was 8.8 percent. 

Each of the three performing arts groups had its own distinct unemployment 
trends during this 20-year period. For musicians and composers, unemployment rose 
from 6 percent in 1970 to 8 percent in 1980 and then fell to 6 percent in 1990. Their 
rate showed the same trend as the national labor force's unemployment rate, which 
rose from 5 percent in 1970 to 7 percent in 1980 and fell to 5 percent in 1990. 

For dancers, on the other hand, unemployment rates have declined. Starting at 
14 percent in 1970, more than double the national rate, dancers' unemployment 
dropped to 1 1 percent in 1980 and to 7 percent in 1990. This was only two points 
above the 1990 national rate. (Because of the small number of dancers in the sample, 
this difference could be statistically insignificant.) 

Unemployment trends of actors and directors are more difficult to pin down. In 
1 970 when actors were a separate occupational group, their unemployment rate was 
32 percent — extremely high compared to the other groups. When directors were 
combined with actors for the 1980 Census, the rate dropped to 15 percent. For actors 
alone, the rate could have gone up or down. The Current Population Survey put the 
1980 unemployment rate for actors alone at about 35 percent. However, the small 
CPS sample size for groups like actors and directors can distort the findings. This 
information indicates that directors have steadier employment than actors. 

Length of Time Since the Unemployed Last Worked 

Along with a decline in unemployment rates, the length of time since 
unemployed actors, directors and dancers last worked fell in the 1980s. In 1990, 65.2 
percent of actors and directors who were unemployed at the time of the Census 
(April 1st) had been employed at some time that year. Nearly one-third, however, had 
been unemployed since sometime in 1989. Fewer than 3 percent had not worked for 
two years (since 1988) and only 1.5 percent had not worked for three to five years 
(since 1985 to 1987). This showed slight improvement over findings of the 1980 
Census when 61.1 percent of unemployed actors and directors had been employed at 
some time between January 1st and April 1st, 1980; 33.4 percent had last been 
employed during 1979; 3.5 percent had been out of work for two years and 2.0 
percent had been without a job for three to five years (Table 4). 

Unemployed dancers saw an even stronger downward trend in the length of time 
since they had last worked. As of April 1, 1990, 68.0 percent of the dancers who were 
out of work had been unemployed for less than three months, compared to 57.1 
percent of unemployed dancers 1 years earlier. The proportion who had not worked 
since sometime in the year prior to the Census dropped from 35.7 percent in 1980 
to 24.3 percent in 1990. The proportion unemployed for two to five years was 
roughly unchanged: 7.1 percent in 1980 to 7.6 percent in 1990. 



Employment and Earnings of Performing Artists, 1970 to 1990 I 91 



TABLE 4 






AMONG UNEMPLOYED PERFORMING ARTISTS 


, WHEN DID THEY 


LAST WORK? AS OF APRIL 1980 AND 1990 




Unemployed as of April 1, 


1980 


1990 


Unemployed actors and directors who last worked... 






This year 


61.1% 


65.2% 


Last year 


33.4% 


30.6% 


Two years ago 


3.5% 


2.7% 


Three to five years ago 


2.0% 


1 .5% 


Unemployed dancers who last worked... 






This year 


57.1% 


68.0% 


Last year 


35.7% 


24.3% 


Two years ago 


7.1% 


7.2% 


Three to five years ago 


* 


0.4% 


Unemployed musicians and composers who last worked... 






This year 


64.6% 


55.7% 


Last year 


27.1% 


31.4% 


Two years ago 


4.6% 


6.4% 


Three to five years ago 


3.7% 


6.5% 


Source: 1980 and 1990 PUMS. 






*Less than 0.05% 







Although musicians and composers had consistently lower unemployment rates 
than the other performing artists, those who were out of work tended to remain so 
longer. In 1990, 12.9 percent of jobless musicians and composers had been 
unemployed for two to five years, compared to 4.2 percent for actors and directors 
and 7.6 percent for dancers. For musicians and composers, this was an increase in the 
numbers experiencing long term spells of unemployment. In 1980 the proportion 
with two or more years of unemployment had been only 8.3 percent. Additionally, 
there was a shift from unemployed musicians and composers who had worked during 
the Census year (64.6 percent in 1980; 55.7 percent in 1990) to those who had not 
worked since the year before the Census (27.1 percent in 1980; 31.4 percent in 
1990). 

Discouraged Workers 

A person is counted as in the labor force only if he or she is employed, 
unemployed and looking for work, or has been laid off and Is awaiting recall. Of 
those classified as "not in the labor force," most are retired or working in the home. 
Others may be in school, ill or not in the labor force for other reasons. One reason 
is often "thinks no job is available," the discouraged worker. Unfortunatclv. 
information on discouraged workers is not available from the Census data. However, 
for 1980 Ruttenberg et al. found that 6 percent of all actors surveyed (including those 
who might be classed by the Census as not in the labor force) were discouraged 
workers. For singers, the rate was 7 percent; musicians, 5 percent and dancers. 3 
percent (Ruttenberg et al., 1981; p. 161). 



92 I Artists in the Work Force 



Spells of Unemployment 

Concentrating on the labor force status at a point in time may be misleading; it 
certainly gives an incomplete picture. A performer may be employed at Census time, 
but this says nothing about his or her experiences in the labor market over time. 
According to the Ruttenberg survey, during 1980, 69 percent of actors, 64 percent 
of singers, 38 percent of musicians and 77 percent of dancers experienced some 
period of unemployment (Ruttenberg et al., 1981; p. 131). Nationally, only 18.1 
percent of those in the labor force experienced or were experiencing a period of 
unemployment in 1980 (BLS, 1989). 

Not only did most performing artists have some period without pay during 
1980, but they also tended to have multiple periods of unemployment. In 1980, 63 
percent of actors, 49 percent of singers, 56 percent of musicians and 30 percent of 
dancers who were not employed experienced three or more periods without any work 
during the year, either as performers or in secondary jobs (Ruttenberg et al., 1981; p. 
144). By contrast, only 13.1 percent of those in the total work force who had a 
jobless period in 1980 experienced three or more periods without work. Additionally, 
the majority of the unemployed performers (except for dancers) did not receive 
unemployment compensation. 

Class of Worker 

The Census defines the nature of a worker's employer as the worker's "class" of 
employment. The classes are private employer, self-employed, government or unpaid 
family work. Throughout this century there has been a trend in the U.S. away from 
self-employment toward wage and salary work in private firms, and more recently, in 
federal, state and local government. Performing artist occupations, however, deviate 
from the national trend. In 1990 of the 255,031 employed performing artists 
counted by the Census, 65.8 percent were wage and salary employees of private 
firms, 4.1 percent were government employees and 29.9 percent were self-employed 
(compared to only 8.6 percent of self-employed working civilians in the labor force 
overall). Of self-employed performing artists, 69.9 percent were musicians and 
composers, 24.8 percent were actors and directors and 5.3 percent were dancers. 

For actors and directors, 20 percent were self-employed in 1990, compared to 17 
percent in 1980. In 1970 only 11 percent of actors alone were self-employed; the 
difference implies that directors are more likely to be self-employed than actors. 

In 1990 dancers were also 20 percent self-employed, representing a five-fold 
increase over 1970 when only 4 percent were self-employed. They were, however, less 
likely than actors and directors to hold government positions. Dancers had the largest 
increase in the numbers of self-employed workers. 

Musicians and composers were the most likely to be self-employed in each 
Census, with 24 percent self-employed in 1970, 36 percent in 1980 and 38 percent 
in 1990. However, the unemployed among musicians and composers were more 
likely to describe themselves as self-employed; 47 percent of this group who were out 



Employment and Earnings of Performing Artists, 1970 to 1990 I 93 



of work described themselves as self-employed, compared to 38 percent of those who 
were employed. 

Persons in other classes of work are also classified as unemployed when laid off 
because their employer cannot find buyers for the firm's goods or services. This is not 
much different from the self-employed musician who cannot find a gig. 

Industry of Employment 

It should come as no surprise that the majority of all performing artists were 
employed in the service sector of the U.S. economy. In 1990 "entertainment and 
recreation services" employed 51 percent of actors and directors, 68 percent of 
dancers and 48 percent of musicians and composers. Within that sector of 
employment, the main industry was "theatres and motion pictures" which employed 
51 percent of actors and directors, 32 percent of dancers and 45 percent of musicians 
and composers in 1990. For actors and directors, "communications" was the other 
principal sector of employment, specifically, "radio and television broadcasting and 
cable," which employed 32 percent of actors and directors in 1990. Next largest 
industry was "colleges and universities," which employed 5 percent of all working 
actors and directors. 

For dancers, the other significant industries of employment were "miscellaneous 
entertainment and recreation services" (35 percent) and "eating and drinking places" 
(22 percent). "Eating and drinking places" fall within the retail sector, which overall 
employed 23 percent of all dancers, including 1 percent in "hotels and motels." The 
prominence of eating and drinking places as a major employer of dancers probably 
reflects the diversity of this category which includes ballet, tap dancers, 
choreographers, go-go and "exotic" dancers. 

Musicians and composers were the next most likely, after actors and directors, to 
work in the "theatres and motion picture" industry. The next largest employers of 
musicians and composers were "religious organizations" (25 percent) and "eating and 
drinking places" (7 percent). That last figure appears to represent a reversal in the 
growth trend for musicians in "eating and drinking places." In 1970, 10,363 or 1 1 
percent of musicians and composers were employed in that industry. By 1980 "eating 
and drinking places" employed 11,558 musicians and composers. But all the gains 
and more disappeared by 1990 when only 9,769 musicians and composers worked 
in that industry — a decline of almost 6 percent in the 20-year period. This decline 
could in part reflect the difficulty the Census has identifying musicians when thev 
work part-time or intermittently in their profession. But it appears to be a factor in 
the overall decline in the musicians' labor force growth rate. 

An even larger factor in the declining growth rate for musicians and composers 
appears to be the sharp decline in the number employed in "theatres and motion 
pictures" between 1980 and 1990. In 1980, 68,468 musicians and composers or S3 
percent had work in this Industry. By 1990 the numbers had dropped to 62,614 
individuals and 45 percent. This was a sharp reversal of the " ' percent growth 
musicians and composers enjoyed in this industry in the previous decade. An 



94 I Artists in the Work Force 



explanation for this trend may lie in the increased availability of electronic substitutes 
for live performers in the music field during the 1980s, such as sophisticated 
recording and sampling technologies. 

Perhaps one of the most interesting changes in industrial employment for 
performing artists resulted from combining the actor-director category and the 
concomitant rise in importance of cable television. In 1970, 70 percent of all actors 
worked in the "theatres and motion picture" industry and only 6 percent in the 
"radio and television broadcasting and cable" industry. By 1980 the proportions had 
changed to 51 percent of actors- directors employed in the "theatres and motion 
picture" industry and 34 percent in the "radio and television broadcasting and cable" 
industry. In 1990 these proportions were little changed (51 percent and 32 percent). 

Weeks of Work and Usual Weekly Hours 

The Census asks respondents if they worked at any time during the previous year 
for a wage. Having worked last year forms the organizing principle for employment 
and earnings characteristics of performing artists in the following sections. 

The number of performing artists increases significantly when the focus shifts 
from the currently employed (as of Census Week) to those who worked at all the 
previous year. In 1990, 255,031 performing artists were employed at the time of the 
Census, but almost a quarter more (310,925) had worked sometime the previous 
year. Workers in general cycle between employment, unemployment and not in the 
labor force due to a host of personal and economic circumstances. Performing artists 
appear more likely to experience this cycling than most other workers. When the 
focus shifts from the current to the previous year, a problem is uncertainty that the 
current occupation is the same as last year's. 

Among actors and directors who had any work in 1989, 53.6 percent worked 50 
to 52 weeks during the year. At the other end of the spectrum 23.5 percent worked 
26 or fewer weeks. This was an improvement over 1979 when 48.3 percent worked 
a full year and 27.7 percent worked less than half a year. In 1969, before directors 
were included in this category, only 21.7 percent of actors worked a full year, while 
41.2 percent worked less than a half year. In fact, in 1969, nearly a quarter of all 
actors worked 13 or fewer weeks. Improvements for actors and directors from 1970 
to 1990 have resulted largely from changing the definition of the category in 1980, 
as directors clearly have steadier employment than actors. The median number of 
weeks worked by actors and directors in 1989 was 50, up two weeks from 1979. 

Dancers were the least likely in 1989 to work a full year. Only a third of all 
dancers who had any work that year worked 50 to 52 weeks. This represented some 
progress as only 29.5 percent of dancers worked a full year in 1969 and 28.3 percent 
in 1979. Dancers were also more likely than other performers, although marginally 
so, to work less than half a year in 1989. Of all dancers who worked in 1989, 27.2 
percent worked 26 or fewer weeks, a slight improvement over 1979 (33.3 percent) 
and 1969 (31.1 percent). The median number of weeks worked in 1989 was 39, the 
lowest for performing artists. 



Employment and Earnings of Performing Artists, 1970 to 1990 I 95 



Nearly half of all musicians and composers who worked in 1989 (46.1 percent) 
worked a full year, which was up from 39 percent in 1969 and a similar proportion 
in 1979. In 1989 the median number of weeks worked by musicians and composers 
was 48, up by six weeks from 1979 (data for 1969 is not available). Taken together, 
the data for musicians and composers paint a picture of a labor market that is using 
its employed workers more intensively (more weeks worked and longer spells of 
unemployment) compared to other performers. 

For most occupations, less than 35 hours a week is considered to be part-time 
employment. By this measurement, of musicians and composers who worked in 
1989, 43.8 percent worked full-time and 56.2 percent part-time (Table 5). This 
represented a trend toward less part-time work for musicians and composers, 63.0 
percent of whom worked part-time in 1979. (1969 data not available.) It is 
impossible to say whether this trend may represent an increase in hours worked at 
non-performing arts related jobs. 





TABLE 5 






CROSSTABULATION OF PERFORMING ARTISTS BY PART/FULL 


TIME AND PART/FULL YEAR WORK STATUS IN 1989. 




Actors & 




Musicians & 




Directors 


Dancers 


Composers 


Part-year 


46% 


67% 


54% 


Part-time 


18% 


36% 


36% 


Full-time 


29% 


31% 


18% 


Full-year 


54% 


33% 


46% 


Part-time 


5% 


14% 


20% 


Full-time 


48% 


20% 


26% 


Part time 


23% 


50% 


56% 


Full-time 


77% 


50% 


44% 


Total 


1 00% 


1 00% 


1 00% 


Source 1990 PUMS. 



Dancers experienced a relative decline in full-time employment as measured by 
usual weekly hours from 1979 to 1989. In 1979, 56.0 percent were employed full- 
time and 44.0 percent part-time. By 1989 the proportions had changed to 50.4 
percent working full-time usual weekly hours and 49.6 percent part-time. 

For actors and directors, those employed full-time increased slightly from 74.6 
percent working full-time hours in 1979 to 77.2 percent working full-time hours in 
1989. When actors and directors worked, they were more than twice as likely as other 
performers to work long hours; 37.4 percent had more than 40 hours in a typical 
week in 1989. 

Because it will be important later when earnings are discussed, Table 5 brings 
together the discussion of weeks and usual weekly hours worked by performing artists 
in 1989. It is interesting to note that whether actors and directors are employed part- 
or full-year, they are more likely to work full-time — 35 or more hours a week. For 
dancers, musicians and composers, part-year workers are more likely to work part- 
time and full-year workers to work full-time. This has a significant effect on earnings 



96 I Artists in the Work Force 



levels for these occupations, as will be shown. 

The Census does not answer the question that is probably foremost in the mind 
of those interested in the labor market experiences of performing artists: how much 
of the work reported in the Census is in the performing arts and how much is in 
other jobs? Most performing artists are multiple jobholders. Sixty-four percent each 
of actors and singers, 73 percent of musicians and 37 percent of dancers held jobs 
outside of the performing arts in 1980 (Ruttenberg et al., 1981; p. 81). In contrast, 
only 5.2 percent of all workers nationwide held multiple jobs in 1970, 4.9 percent in 
1980 and 6.2 percent in 1989 (Stinson, 1990; p.4). In 1991 the multiple job-holding 
rate for managerial and professional specialty workers was 7.3 percent, the highest 
rate among the major occupational groups, but not as high as rates for performing 
artists (Census, 1992). The most frequent reasons performers gave in 1980 for 
working outside performing arts were (1) there was not enough performing arts work 
and (2) the outside work supplemented their income from the performing arts. 

The Ruttenberg study found that in 1980 actors were the most likely to have 
worked 50 days or fewer in performing arts (61 percent). (For a regular eight hour 
work day and five day work week, the usual number of days with pay is 260 per year.) 
Singers tended to have more performing arts work than actors; only 31 percent 
worked 50 days or fewer. Thirty-four percent of musicians worked 50 or fewer days 
in their field. Dancers had the most work time in a performing arts job. Only 19 
percent of dancers worked 50 days or less, but 47 percent worked over 250 days, 
giving dancers the highest proportion with roughly full year employment in the 
performing arts. Only 5 percent of actors, 8 percent of singers and 12 percent of 
musicians worked as much as dancers in performing arts jobs (Ruttenberg et al., 
1981; p. 64). By contrast, Census data showed dancers the least likely to work a full 
year. 

The differences might arise from small sample sizes in both data sources, the 
mixture of types of dancers in the Census and the union status of dancers in the 
Ruttenberg study. They may also reflect that actors and musicians are more likely 
than dancers to get supplemental work outside their performing arts profession, 
thereby boosting the number of weeks they report employment relative to dancers. 
The Ruttenberg study reported that of those who held a job outside the performing 
arts, 47 percent of actors worked 100 or more days in that job and 1 7 percent worked 
over 250 days in 1980. The proportions for singers were even greater: 59 percent 
worked over 100 days. Fifty percent of musicians worked 100 or more days in their 
other jobs. Dancers, the least likely to have a job outside the performing arts, also 
worked less in those jobs when they did have them; only 22 percent worked more 
than 100 days in their non-performing arts jobs (Ruttenberg et al., 1981; p. 1 16). 

Earnings 

Clear-cut information on performing artists' incomes is difficult to come by, due 
to multiple job holding, irregular hours and periodic joblessness, with and without 
unemployment compensation. 



Employment and Earnings of Performing Artists, 1970 to 1990 I 97 



Data on income by type is available in the Census data. In the Artist Extract 
Files, which are derived from the Census, the data for each person include income 
from wages and salaries, non-farm and farm self-employment, retirement, interest 
and dividends, public assistance and "other" sources. Interpreting this income 
information for performing artists is not easy. The breakdown of wages between 
performing arts work and/or a support job cannot be known. Interest income could 
be residual or royalty income from a recorded performance or interest from a 
checking account. Caution is called for when interpreting the data. 

Union pension records, on the other hand, show wage and residual income from 
performing arts work only. However, they may not represent all of a person's earnings 
in the performing arts field, and they lack data on earnings from jobs outside the 
field. Neither do they include precise information on how much work time the 
earnings represent. (The union pension records do include weeks worked, but 
according to the standard practice, one to seven days worked in a seven day period is 
recorded as a full week of work. This system makes it difficult to tell who is actually 
working more than whom.) Also, information on labor force status comparable to 
that found in the Census and CPS is lacking. 

Despite the shortcomings of the Census and pension data, a great deal can be 
said about the earnings of performing artists. 

Median and Mean Earnings 

The last three Censuses have recorded ever higher earnings for each group of 
performing artists. In 1969 actors had median earnings of $5,936; dancers, $3,332 
and musicians and composers, $2,958. By 1979 the median earnings of dancers 
increased 62 percent to $5,404 and musicians and composers 88 percent to $5,561. 
These increases, however, were outpaced by the 98 percent rise in average consumer 
prices in the U.S. from 1969 to 1979. 

Data for actors and directors are not available for 1969 because directors were 
not included with actors in the 1970 Census. In 1979, however, the median earnings 
of actors and directors were $12,564, an increase of 1 1 1.7 percent over actors alone 
in the 1970 Census. Clearly the merging of directors with actors in the 1980 Census 
boosted the earnings of the group relative to actors alone. 

By 1989 the median earnings of performing artists were higher: for actors and 
directors, $22,000 (up 75 percent from 1979); for dancers, $8,500 (up 57 percent) 
and for musicians and composers, $9,900 (up 78 percent). Average prices increased 
by 68 percent during this time, so for all performers except dancers their median 
earnings outpaced inflation. (See Table 6.) 

The mean earnings of performing artists also increased from 1979 to 1989, but 
at a higher rate than inflation. Additionally, mean earnings were higher than median 
earnings, which showed some individuals' earnings were much higher than the rest 
of their groups earnings. The mean earnings of actors and directors were $16,498 in 
1970, or 31 percent higher than median earnings; by 1989 they had increased to 
$32,261 (up 96 percent), with the difference between the mean and median or 



98 I Artists in the Work Force 



TABLE 6 

MEDIAN EARNINGS OF PERFORMING ARTISTS WORKING IN 

1969,1979 AND 1989. 

Percent Change 
1969 1979 1989 1969-79 1979-89 



Actors 

Actors & directors 

Dancers 

Musicians & Composers 

Inflation (CPI-W, 1982/84 + 100 



£5,936 


na 


na 


na 


na 


na 


$12,564 


$22,000 


na 


75.1% 


3,332 


5,404 


8,500 


62.2% 


57.3% 


2,958 


5,561 


9,900 


88.0% 


78.0% 


36.9 


73.1 


122.6 


98.1% 


67.7% 



Sources: NEA Research Division Note #10 "Artists Real Earnings Decline 37 Percent in the 
1970's," Washington, DC, March 5, 1985, and Artist Extract File for 1990 Census 



spread increased to 47 percent. This growing spread indicates that the earnings of the 
highest paid members of the professions, perhaps "superstars," increased faster than 
earnings of the profession as a whole. (See Table 7.) 

The same trend held for dancers, musicians and composers. For dancers, their 
mean earnings were $7,062 in 1979 and increased by 72 percent to $12,152 in 1989. 
Musicians' and composers' mean earnings were $16,233 in 1989, an increase of 105 
percent over their mean earnings of $7,923 in 1979. The spread also increased. In 
1 979 the mean was 3 1 percent higher than the median for dancers' earnings, but 43 
percent higher in 1989. For musicians and composers, the spread increased from 43 
percent in 1979 to 64 percent in 1989. 



TABLE 7 

MEAN EARNINGS OF PERFORMING ARTISTS AND INFLATION 

1979 TO 1989. 

Percent Change 
1979 1989 1979-89 


Actors 

Actors and directors 

Dancers 

Musicians and composers 

Inflation (CPI-W, 1982/84=100) 


na 
$16,498 
7,062 
7,923 

73.1 


na 

$32,261 

12,152 

16,233 

122.6 


na 

95.5% 

72.1% 

104.9% 

67.7% 


Sources: Artist Extract Files for 1980 and 1990; Bureau of Labor Statistics 



Distribution of Earnings 

Single numbers like the mean or median do not tell the whole story of how well 
or poorly performing artists have done in the labor market at each point in time. For 
example, in 1989 about 1 percent of all performing artists earned zero or less (Table 
8). Twenty-four percent of actors and directors, 53 percent of dancers and 49 percent 
of musicians and composers earned less than $10,000 in 1989 — from all work. The 
similarities in earnings distributions for performing artist occupations end there. 
Actors and directors are much more evenly spread out in terms of earnings and 
consistently earn more than their dancer or musician peers. About three-quarters of 



Employment and Earnings of Performing Artists, 1970 to 1990 I 99 







TABLE 8 






MEAN EARNINGS OF PERFORMING ARTISTS AND INFLATION 






1979 TO 1989. 








Actors & 




Musicians & 




Directors 


Dancers 


Composers 


% 


Cumulative 


% Cumulative 


% 


Cumulative 






Total 


Total 




Total 


$0 


0.4% 




0.4% 


0.4% 




$1 to $999 


4.5% 




7.4% 


9.3% 




$1,000 to $4,999 


10.0% 




24.1% 


22.2% 




$5,000 to $9,999 


9.3% 




20.9% 


17.1% 




Loss 


0.4% 


0.4% 


0.4% 0.4% 


0.4% 


0.4% 


$0 to $9,999 


24.2% 


24.5% 


52.8% 53.2% 


49.0% 


49.4% 


$10,000 to $19,999 


19.6% 


44.2% 


25.6% 78.8% 


21.9% 


71.3% 


$20,000 to $29,999 


18.0% 


62.2% 


12.9% 91.7% 


12.8% 


84.1% 


$30,000 to $39,999 


12.8% 


74.9% 


4.0% 95.7% 


6.3% 


90.4% 


$40,000 to $49,999 


7.6% 


82.6% 


2.2% 97.9% 


3.2% 


93.6% 


$50,000 to $59,999 


4.7% 


87.3% 


0.6% 98.5% 


1 .9% 


95.5% 


$60,000 or more 


12.7% 


100.0% 


1.3% 100.0% 


3.9% 


100.0% 


Source: 1990 PU 'MS. 



dancers, musicians and composers earned less than $20,000 in 1989, but less than 
half of all actors and directors who worked in 1989 earned less than $20,000. At the 
other end of the earnings distribution, 13 percent of actors and directors (1 in 8) 
earned $60,000 or more in 1989, but only 1.3 percent of dancers (1 in 80) and 3.9 
percent of musicians and composers (about 1 in 25) earned that much the same year. 

Although actors and directors were the most likely to earn in the higher brackets 
in 1989, the distribution of earnings improved during the 1980s for all performing 
artist occupations as seen in Tables 9, 10 and 1 1 for 1979 and 1989. Data for 1969 
are not available for earnings distributions. 

The earnings distribution shifted markedly for actors and directors between 
1979 and 1989. The proportion earning less than $10,000 during the year decreased 
from 44 percent in 1979 to 24 percent in 1989. The proportion who earned at least 
$10,000, but less than $20,000, also decreased, from 28 percent to 20 percent. At 
the other end of the earnings distribution, every interval above $20,000 increased its 
share of actors and directors earning in those ranges. The proportion of actors and 
directors with the highest incomes, $60,000 or more, grew the most, increasing from 
5 percent in 1979 to 13 percent in 1989. 

An upward shift in the earnings distribution also occurred for dancers during the 
1980s. In 1979, 75 percent of dancers earned less than $10,000, but by 1989 the 
proportion of dancers in that range had fallen to roughly SO percent. More than a 
quarter earned between $10,000 and $19,999 in 1989, compared to less than 20 
percent earning in that range in 1979. 

The distribution of earnings for musicians and composers also improved 
between 1979 and 1989. The proportion earning less than $10,000 fell from 71 
percent in 1979 to about one half in 1989. The proportion earning $30,000 or more 
increased substantially from 3.6 percent in 1979 to IS. 3 percent in 1989. 



100 I Artists in the Work Force 





TABLE 9 




FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION OF ACTORS AND DIRECTORS WHO WORKED 


IN YEAR PREVIOUS TO CENSUS, 


BY EARNINGS. 


1980 AND 1990 CENSUSES. 






Shift in % 


Earnings Ranges 


1979 


1989 points 


$0 


0.6% 


0.4% -0.1 


$1 to $999 


6.5% 


4.5% 2.1 


$1,000 10 54,999 


18.0% 


10.0% 8.0 


$5,000 to $9,999 


8.6% 


9.3% 9.3 


Loss 


0.5% 


0.4% -0.1 


$0 to $9,999 


43.7% 


24.2% -19.5 


$10,000 to $19,999 


27.7% 


19.6% -8.1 


$20,000 to $29,999 


12.7% 


18.0% 5.3 


$30,000 to $39,999 


5.7% 


12.8% 7.1 


$40,000 to $49,999 


2.8% 


7.6% 4.9 


$50,000 to $59,999 


2.0% 


4.7% 2.6 


$60,000 or more 


5.0% 


12.7% 7.8 


Source: 1980 and 1990 PUMS. 





TABLE 10 






FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION OF DANCERS WHO WORKED IN YEAR 


PREVIOUS TO CENSUS, 


BY EARNINGS. 1980 AND 1990 CENSUSES. 








Shift in % 


Earnings Ranges 


1979 


1989 


points 


$0 


1 .2% 


0.4% 


-0.8 


$1 to $999 


13.5% 


7.4% 


-6.1 


$1,000 to $4,999 


35.3% 


24.1% 


-11.2 


$5,000 to $9,999 


25.2% 


20.9% 


-4.3 


Loss 


0.5% 


0.4% 


-0.1 


$0 to $9,999 


75.2% 


52.8% 


-22.3 


$10,000 to $19,999 


18.3% 


25.6% 


7.2 


$20,000 to $29,999 


3.8% 


12.9% 


9.2 


$30,000 to $39,999 


0.9% 


4.0% 


3.1 


$40,000 to $49,999 


0.8% 


2.2% 


1.4 


$50,000 to $59,999 


0.1% 


0.6% 


0.5 


$60,000 or more 


0.5% 


1 .3% 


0.8 


Source: 1980 and 1990 PUMS. 





TABLE 11 






FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION OF MUSICIANS & COMPOSERS WHO WORKED 


IN YEAR PREVIOUS TO CENSUS, 


BY EARNINGS. 


1980 AND 1990 CENSUSES. 








Shift in % 


Earnings Ranges 


1979 


1989 


points 


$0 


0.7% 


0.4 


-0.3 


$1 to $999 


13.0% 


9.3% 


-3.7 


$1,000 to $4,999 


35.3% 


22.2% 


-13.1 


$5,000 to $9,999 


22.1% 


17.1% 


5.0 


Loss 


0.5% 


0.4% 


-0.1 


$0 to $9,999 


71.1% 


49.0% 


-22.1 


$10,000 to $19,999 


19.2% 


21.9% 


2.7 


$20,000 to $29,999 


5.2% 


12.8% 


7.6 


$30,000 to $39,999 


1 .7% 


6.3% 


4.6 


$40,000 to $49,999 


0.7% 


3.2% 


2.5 


$50,000 to $59,999 


0.4% 


1 .9% 


1.4 


$60,000 or more 


0.8% 


3.9% 


3.1 


Source: 1980 and 1990 PUMS. 



Employment and Earnings of Performing Artists, 1970 to 1990 I 101 



Full-time versus Part-time Earnings 

A number of variables affect earnings. The number of hours worked per week 
and the number of weeks worked per year are major factors determining the level of 
earnings. To simplify this analysis, performing artists are grouped according to 
whether they worked part-time and part-year (less than 35 hours per week, less than 
50 weeks per year) or full-time and full-year (35 or more hours per week, 50 weeks 
or more per year). As Table 12 shows, these differences have a dramatic effect on 
earnings. 







TABLE 12 








FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION OF PERFORMING ARTISTS WHO 


WORKED IN YEAR PREVIOUS TO CENSUS, BY EARNINGS AND BY 


PART/FULL TIME AND PART/FULL YEAR WORK STATUS, 


1989 




EARNINGS FROM 1990 CENSUS. 








Actors & 






Mush 


:ians & 




Directors 


Dancers 


Composers 


Part-time 


Part-time 


Part-time 


Part-time 


Part-time 


Part-time 


Earnings Range 


& Part-year 


& Part-year 


& Part-year 


& Part-year 


& Part-yeai 


* & Part-year 


$0 


1 .2% 


0.2% 


0.8% 


0.0% 


0.7% 


0.1% 


$1 to $999 


1 7.6% 


0.2% 


16.7% 


0.4% 


19.6% 


0.7% 


$1,000 to $4,999 


29.3% 


0.7% 


37.8% 


2.6% 


33.1% 


3.4% 


$5,000 to $9,999 


16.8% 


3.0% 


20.9% 


13.8% 


18.1% 


9.2% 


Loss 


0.5% 


0.3% 


0.4% 


1 .5% 


1 .6% 


1.1% 


$0 to $9,999 


64.9% 


4.1% 


76.1% 


16.7% 


71.4% 


13.6% 


$10,000 to $19,999 


13.2% 


20.2% 


14.5% 


41.9% 


14.1% 


28.7% 


$20,000 to $29,999 


8.7% 


23.4% 


4.7% 


26.2% 


6.3% 


23.7% 


$30,000 to $39,999 


3.7% 


18.6% 


2.5% 


7.6% 


2.5% 


13.9% 


$40,000 to $49,999 


2.1% 


1 1 .3% 


0.7% 


2.4% 


1 .4% 


6.6% 


$50,000 to $59,999 


1 .7% 


6.2% 


0.3% 


1 .4% 


0.8% 


4.1% 


$60,000 or more 


5.1% 


15.9% 


0.7% 


2.3% 


1 .8% 


8.4% 


Source: 1980 and 1990 PUMS. 



For all performing artist occupations (without regard to hours or weeks worked), 
the most common earnings interval was the $0 to $9,999 range (Table 8, earlier). 
When part-time and part-year artists are separated from full-time and full-year 
artists, the most prevalent interval for part-time and part-year artists continues to be 
the $0 to $9,999 interval, with 65 percent of actors and directors, 76 percent of 
dancers and 71 percent of musicians and composers (Table 12). Interestingly; the 
proportions of all performing artists earning SO to $9,999 are closer for all three 
occupations when just part-time and part-year workers are examined. Clearly, some 
of the earnings differences between actors and directors and the other two groups 
discussed above arise from differing proportions of part-time workers (Fable 5« earlier). 

For full-time and full-year work, the most prevalent range tor performing artists 
overall is $10,000 to $19,999. Twenty percent of actors and directors, 42 percent of 
dancers and 29 percent of musicians and composers earn in this range. Notably. 
substantial proportions of all performing artists who work full-time, all year earn in 
the higher ranges. For example, when all performing artists are considered, 18 



102 I Artists in the Work Force 



percent of actors and directors and 13 percent each of dancers, musicians and com- 
posers earned in the $20,000 to $29,999 range. When only full-time, full-year workers 
are considered, however, about a quarter of each group had earnings in this range. 

Much has been made of the low levels of performing arts earnings and the fact 
that median earnings generally have failed to keep pace with inflation. In analyzing 
the meaning of available data on their earnings, though, it is important to keep that 
data's limitations in mind. 

One problem is the temptation to analyze Census data as if the performing artists 
recorded in the 1970 Census are the same ones recorded in the 1980 and 1990 
Censuses. This is not the case. As noted earlier, the performing artist labor force has 
increased substantially over the last 20 years, faster than the labor force in general. 
This suggests that the performing artist labor force has a greater proportion of new 
and relatively inexperienced workers, and these less experienced performers might 
inflate the lower end of the earnings distribution. Those just starting out will earn 
little and if they don't make it will likely drop out of the performing arts work force 
to pursue another career. Those who do make it will probably see their earnings rise 
over time. By the next Census, the discouraged performers are accounted for in 
different occupations and a new, larger group of aspiring performers are now counted 
in the performing artist labor force. The Census data will reflect the successes of 
performing artists who have found steady work by showing a shifting of the earnings 
distribution toward higher incomes. 

Generally, researchers have found that performing artists earn less than other 
professionals with similar experience and education. However, Ruttenberg et al. 
found in 1980 that 50 percent of actors, 42 percent of singers, 49 percent of 
musicians and 23 percent of dancers received less than half of their income from 
performing arts work (Ruttenberg et al., 1981; p. 182). Thus it cannot be assumed 
that earnings of performing artists reported in the Census are from performing arts 
work alone and that as professionals, their earnings suffer in comparison to those of 
other professionals. What may suffer is the availability of steady employment as a 
performing artist relative to other professionals. It cannot be demonstrated using 
Census data that the artists' rates of pay are lower. 

Another factor heavily influencing earnings is the artist's other occupation. The 
1981 survey by Ruttenberg et al. found that of those with second jobs in 1980 over 
half the actors and singers, over a fourth of musicians and one third of dancers were 
in sales, clerical or service jobs — jobs with a history of low pay and benefits. Fewer 
than 1 5 percent held professional jobs as their supplementary occupation and the 
majority indicated that pay of their secondary job was less that their pay in 
performing arts. Most of those with a second job tended to choose those jobs that 
gave them the flexibility needed to pursue an arts career. 

Union Earnings from Pension Records 

This section examines wage and residual earnings information provided by the 
three main actors' unions from their pension records. These three unions represent 
most of the nation's professional actors who perform on stage, screen, television, 



Employment and Earnings of Performing Artists, 1970 to 1990 I 103 



radio or video. Comparable data could not be provided by the two principal unions 
in the musical arts. This discussion will therefore concentrate on actors, except in the 
area of average earnings by source, where certain information is also available for 
musicians' earnings. 

Data furnished by the actors' unions cover all members of the particular union 
who had worked anytime within the five years previous to 1990. The Screen Actors 
Guild (SAG) had data for 1992 only, while the other two unions, Actors' Equity 
Association (AEA) and Aanerican Federation of Television and Radio Artists 
(AETRA), furnished data for both 1990 and 1992. (AFTRA's pension data used here 
excludes categories of members who worked in non-acting fields.) 

The pension data was combined into two master files. The first file covers 
individuals with at least $ 1 in earnings in 1 992 who belonged to any of the three 
unions. The second file covers individuals regardless of earnings who were active 
members in both 1990 and 1992 of AFTRA and/or AEA. Both files contain, for each 
individual, the source of income by union and whether it was wage or residual 
income; however, neither file included personal identifying information. The 
category of wage income in these pension data files corresponds to the wage and 
salary income category of the Census. However, an actor's residual income would 
have been included in the Census as interest, royalty and dividends — a category that 
was not examined in the previous section on earnings information from the Census. 

The first file, covering actors and extras of all three unions who earned at least 
$1 in 1992, included 84,637 actors and extras (extras are included in the Census' 
actor/director category). As an indication of overlapping memberships, 56 of these 
actors and extras belonged to only one union, 31 percent belonged to two unions and 
13 percent belonged to all three unions. The second file, which covers members of 
AEA and AFTRA who were active in both 1990 and 1992, includes 93,766 actors 
and extras. The differences between the two universes are (1) SAG members who are 
members of SAG only, (2) any actor/extra who earned nothing, and (3) active 
members in 1992 who were not active in 1990. 

The Census and pension data are not strictly comparable, but their differences 
help point out some unique labor market problems faced by performers. The data are 
not comparable because (1) the Census has stricter inclusion criteria both for 
occupational and labor force status and (2) the Census data includes directors. Of 
those 84,637 union actors in the pension records, many were probably omitted from 
the tally of Census actors because they did not spend the majority of their work hours 
during Census Week working as actors. Similarly, there were probably other union 
actors who were out of the labor force altogether during Census Week. The Census' 
stricter criteria may help explain why the 1990 Census counted 109,573 actors and 
directors, while the union's figures for actors alone just two years later are about 28 
percent higher. 

Earnings Distributions 

Based on the 1992 union data covering all 84,637 actors and extras with 
earnings, the vast majority (about 69 percent) earned less than $10,000 per year from 



104 I Artists in the Work Force 



wages and residuals (Table 13). The most comparable Census figures are from 1989 
when only 24 percent of actors and directors reported earning $10,000 or less. The 
differences lend support to the hypothesis that Census data on performers' earnings 
are more reflective of their non-performing arts work, and that combining actors and 
directors in the Census data has masked the labor market experiences of actors alone. 
This hypothesis is further supported by looking at the high end of the earnings 
distribution. In the 1989 Census data 13 percent of actors and directors earned 
$60,000 or more, whereas only 6 percent of actors in the pension data earned that 
much. 







TABLE 13 




FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION OF EARNINGS FOR ACTORS WITH EARNINGS 


THROUGH THE ACTOR UNIONS (Wages & Residuals). 




AEA, 


AFTRA, and SAG, 


1992. 








1992 Wages & Residuals 








through AEA, AFTRA and/or 


Earnings Ranges 






SAG by Actors with Earnings 


$1 to $999 






30.4% 


$1,000 to $4,999 






26.1% 


$5,000 to $9,999 






12.9% 


$1 to $9,999 






69.4% 


$10,000 to $19,999 






10.8% 


$20,000 to $29,999 






5.3% 


$30,000 to $39,999 






2.9% 


$40,000 to $49,999 






2.1% 


$50,000 to $59,999 






1 .7% 


$60,000 or more 






7.9% 


Total 






100.0% 


Source: Union pension 


records, AEA, AFTRA and SAC. 





Earnings over Time 

The pension data which covers only AEA and AFTRA members has information 
for the same 93,766 individuals in 1990 and 1992, providing a means to examine 
how individuals fare over time in the acting profession, albeit for a relatively short 
time. 

Overall, the earnings distribution is fairly stable. Eighty-nine percent in 1990 
earned less than $10,000 per year and 87 percent earned less than $10,000 per year 
in 1992. The distribution changed little at any earnings level. 

What is masked in the distribution as a whole is the volatility of personal 
earnings between these two years. Of those without any earnings in 1990, 25 percent 
earned something in 1992 — some going from "zero to 60" thousand or more in two 
years. Conversely, of those who had earned something in 1990, 18 percent earned 
nothing in 1992. Although more than half of the 93,766 earned nothing from their 
craft in both years, of the remainder about 50 percent earned more in 1992 and 
about 50 percent earned less. These statistics include actors whose earnings changed 



Employment and Earnings of Performing Artists, 1970 to 1990 I 105 



within their range. Looking at the same earnings intervals, about one-third moved to 
a higher interval, about one-third stayed the same and about one-third dropped. 

Source of Earnings 

Earnings levels also differ significantly by source. For SAG members alone, 
information was obtained from the pension records on the source of earnings for 
their members broken down as follows: actor versus extra, wages (from any and all 
employers) versus residuals and by type of performance (theatrical motion picture, 
television, TV commercial and industrial educational). The data are for 1992 (Table 14). 





TABLE 14 






AVERAGE WAGES AND RESIDUALS FOR SAG MEMBERS, 


BY TYPE OF WORK. 1992. 








Number of 


Average Pay 


Type of Earnings & Work 


Total Pay 


Earners 


per Earner 


Wages 








Actors 








Theatrical Motion Picture 


$160,545,604 


15,274 


$10,511 


Television 


$289,281,273 


18,412 


$15,712 


TV Commercial 


$147,839,768 


21,910 


$6,748 


Industrial Educational 


$8,609,410 


4,908 


$1,754 


Extras 








Theatrical Motion Picture 


$4,856,191 


7,464 


$651 


Television 


$5,424,817 


4,642 


$1,169 


TV Commercial 


$6,610,145 


5,657 


$1,168 


Residuals 








Actors 








Theatrical Motion Picture 


$52,492,450 


25,394 


$2,067 


Television 


$94,892,377 


31,522 


$3,010 


TV Commercial 


$225,118,805 


19,951 


$11,284 


Industrial Educational 


$517,335 


805 


$643 


Extras 








All types of work [1] 


$80,856 


219 


$369 


[1] Detail aggregated to preserve 


anonymity 






Source: SAG Pension Records. 



The highest average wage was for actors with television work who earned an 
average of $15,712 for the year (1992). The highest average residual was from TV 
commercial work, $11,284. The lowest average wage was for extras in theatrical 
motion pictures, $651, while extras earned the most in television and in TV 
commercials, about $1,168. These averages probably show the same amount of 
variation as do earnings as a whole, but they do provide a clue as to why earnings vary 
so much. It may be that some types of work pay more, or simply that more work is 
available in those categories. The data cannot disclose which is the case. 

Similar information is available from the American Federation of Musicians 
(AFM) which provided summary data on its members' average earnings by type of 



106 I Artists in the Work Force 



performance from pension records covering 43,552 members in 1992. The highest 
average pay for musicians came from New York City theatricals, where average pay 
was $15,164 for the year (Table 15). The lowest was for performances on network or 
commercial radio at $680. Average earnings for TV firms were $3,318 and motion 
pictures, $5,638. 

These data are essentially the total of all earnings from a particular source (e.g., 
TV commercials) divided by the number of performers with that kind of work. They 
are average earnings per person from that kind of work, not average earnings per 
performance. While it is not possible to tell from these data which types of 
performances paid better, these figures do show the extent to which each type of work 
is serving as a source of income for actors and musicians. 





TABLE 15 






AVERAGE WAGES FOR MUSICIAN MEMBERS OF AMERICAN 


FEDERATION OF MUSICIANS, BY INDUSTRY & OVERALL. 1992. 






Number of 


Average 


Type of Earnings & Work 


Total Pay 


Earners 


Pay 


Phonograph recordings 








(Symphonic & non-symphonic) 


$32,479,245 


12,482 


$2,602 


Jingles and commercials (Radio and TV 


) $30,527,576 


na 


na 


Motion pictures 


$21,091,181 


3,741 


$5,638 


Television films 


$12,517,364 


3,773 


$3,318 


Phonograph demo recordings 


$864,509 


1,017 


$850 


Network radio (commercial radio) 


$2,590,954 


3,813 


$680 


Syndicated video 


$7,377,211 


5,243 


$1,407 


Education TV 


$1,613,351 


912 


$1,769 


Traveling theatrical 


$5,922,392 


557 


$10,633 


Fairs, rodeos and circuses 


$745,014 


267 


$2,790 


Maritime (ships) 


$230,857 


244 


$946 


New York City theatricals 


$16,270,998 


1,073 


$15,164 


Local casual and steady engagements 


$54,672,717 


24,415 


$2,239 


Theatres 


$21,081,355 


5,022 


$4,198 


Local symphonies 


$42,165,950 


8,382 


$5,031 


All industries [1] 


$266,896,255 


43,552 


$6,128 


[1] Includes union local officials and employees. The sum 


of the detail exceeds the total 


number of earners because earners can 


have earnings in more than one 


category. 


Source: AFM Pension Records. 



Geographic Distribution 

This section details, as much as practicable, where performing artists live and 
work, based on Census data. The Census defined regions are: Northeast, Midwest, 
South and West. Each region is composed of divisions of which there are nine: New 
England, Middle Atlantic, East North Central, West North Central, South Atlantic, 
East South Central, West South Central, Mountain and Pacific. Unless specifically 
noted to the contrary, actors and directors are included in the following 1970 data, 
unlike most of the preceding analysis. 



Employment and Earnings of Performing Artists, 1970 to 1990 I 107 



Distribution by Region 

In 1990 the West region of the United States had 36 percent of all actors and 
directors, more than any of the other three regions. In 1970 only 29 percent of actors 
and directors lived in this region, a virtual tie with the Northeast where 3 1 percent 
lived (Table 16). By 1990 the Northeast was close to the same number at 29 percent. 
The Midwest's share dropped from 18 percent of actors and directors in 1970 to 14 
percent in 1990. The South remained essentially unchanged at 21 percent in 1990, 
up from 18 percent in 1980 but the same as in 1970. 







TABLE 16 






DISTRIBUTION OF PERFORMING ARTISTS BY REGION OF 




THE UNITED STATES. 1970 TO 1990. 




Region 




1970 


1980 


1990 






Actors and Directors 






Northeast 




31% 


31% 


29% 


Midwest 




18% 


13% 


14% 


South 




21% 


18% 


21% 


West 




29% 
Dancers 


37% 


36% 


Northeast 




24% 


29% 


23% 


Midwest 




17% 


14% 


17% 


South 




19% 


25% 


32% 


West 




40% 
Musicians and Composers 


32% 


28% 


Northeast 




25% 


25% 


22% 


Midwest 




25% 


21% 


20% 


South 




27% 


29% 


32% 


West 




24% 


26% 


26% 


Source: Ellis and Beresford, 


1994. 







The pattern for dancers could not have been more different. The West employed 
40 percent of all dancers in 1970, dropping to 32 percent in 1980 and to 28 percent 
in 1990. The major gainer was the South whose share of dancers in 1990 was 32 
percent, up from 19 percent in 1970 and 25 percent in 1980. With minor 
fluctuations, the Northeast and Midwest had about the same proportion of dancers 
in 1990 as in 1970. In 1970 the Northeast was home to 24 percent, in 1990, 23 
percent. The Midwest had 17 percent in both 1970 and 1990. 

Musicians and composers followed yet another trend. While the Northeast 
incurred a slight loss in its share of musicians and composers and the West a slight 
gain over the 20-year period, the Midwest lost a substantial share, going from 2^ 
percent in 1970 to 20 percent in 1990. The South was the major gainer. In l l )~0. 2" 
percent of musicians and composers lived there while 32 percent lived in the South 
in 1990. 

The overall trend represented a shift in employment to the South for dancers, 
musicians and composers and to the West for actors and directors. 1 [owever, no area 



108 I Artists in the Work Force 



had a net loss of any performing artist group over the 1970 to 1990 period. The 
changes in proportion for all three groups are due solely to different rates of growth 
of the performing artist work forces within the regions. 

Distribution by Division 

At the level of Census division, the proportion of actors and directors who live 
in a particular area has been remarkably stable over the last 20 years. The notable 
exceptions are the Pacific region which increased its share from 25 percent in 1970 
to 32 percent in 1990 and the West South Central region (Texas, Arkansas, 
Oklahoma and Louisiana) which decreased its share from about 10 percent in 1970 
to about 5 percent by 1990. Again, these changes reflect solely different growth rates 
of the actor and director work forces in those areas. 

If the last two decades were boom years for actors and directors in the Pacific 
area, they seem to have been bust years for dancers. The Pacific states' share of 
dancers shifted from 32 percent in 1970 to 19 percent by 1990. The other two areas 
with high concentrations of dancers in 1970 also saw their shares fall. In the Middle 
Atlantic states which include New York, the share fell from 22 to 19 percent over the 
20-year period. In the North East Central states which include Illinois, the 
proportion of dancers fell from 15 percent in 1970 to 12 percent in 1990. 

The big gainers in terms of dancer population were the South Atlantic 
(Maryland to Florida on the Atlantic seaboard) and the West South Central states 
(Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana). From 1970 to 1990 the South Atlantic 
increased its share of resident dancers from 1 2 to 18 percent; the West South Central 
states, from 6 to 1 1 percent. 

The geographic distribution of musicians and composers has remained fairly 
stable since 1970. The major shifts have been from the Middle Atlantic states (chiefly 
New York) to the Pacific and South Atlantic states. As with the other performing 
artist occupations, the changes in shares for musicians and composers reflect different 
growth rates. 

Unemployment by Division, 1 990 

Nationally, in 1990 the unemployment rate for actors and directors was 13 
percent; for dancers, 7 percent and for musicians and composers, 6 percent. 
However, in areas where the absolute numbers of performing artists are quite high, 
the unemployment rate also tends to be higher than the national average. Using a 
statistical test to determine the degree of trend, where percent indicates no 
relationship and 100 percent indicates a full relationship, the degree to which the 
trend is true for actors and directors is 95 percent; musicians and composers, 59 
percent and dancers, 50 percent. 

Across occupations, four divisions consistently are home to over 10 percent of 
performing artists: Middle Atlantic, East North Central, South Atlantic and Pacific. 
The Middle Atlantic and the Pacific have consistently higher proportions of the 



Employment and Earnings of Performing Artists, 1970 to 1990 I 109 



nation's performing artists and unemployment rates consistently higher than the 
national average. The Middle Atlantic had 24 percent of actors and directors in 1990 
with an unemployment rate of 16 percent (compared to 13 percent nationally for 
performers). The Pacific had 32 percent of actors and directors with an 
unemployment rate of 20 percent. The trend holds for the other performing artists 
as well. 

In contrast, the other two major divisions had unemployment rates lower than 
the national average. The East North Central had 10 percent of all actors and 
directors in 1990, but an unemployment rate of 6 percent, less than half the national 
rate. The same held true for dancers (12 percent of dancers, 6 percent unemployment 
rate) and musicians and composers (14 percent with 6 percent unemployment rate). 
In the South Atlantic division the unemployment rate for all three groups of 
performing artists was 5 percent. 

Geographic Concentration of Performing Artists 

Looking at the divisional level, it is clear that performing artists are concentrated 
in specific areas of the country. Most of those performing artists who lived on "one 
of the coasts" lived in the Pacific states (California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and 
Hawaii) if they were in the West or the Middle Atlantic states (New York, New Jersey 
and Pennsylvania) if they were in the Northeast. In 1990, 56 percent of actors and 
directors lived either in the Pacific states (32 percent) or the Middle Atlantic states 
(24 percent). For dancers, musicians and composers, 38 percent lived on either coast. 
Moving to even greater detail, the New York City and Los Angeles metropolitan areas 
were the major areas of residence for performing artists. In 1990, 37 percent of 
actors and directors lived in Los Angeles or New York, with more in Los Angeles. For 
dancers, 16 percent lived in either city, with more in New York. For musicians, 16 
percent lived in these two metro areas, with 8 percent in each. 

In 1990, 60 percent of all employed actors and directors worked in just six states 
(California, New York, Texas, Florida, Illinois and Massachusetts). For employed 
dancers, 39 percent were concentrated in just four states (New York, California, 
Florida and Texas), and the same four states (with California first) provided work for 
40 percent of employed musicians. The reverse side of this concentration finds ~^ 
states providing only 10 percent of the work for actors And directors in 1 990. I lalf of 
.ill states plus the District of ( Columbia offered employment for just 1 2 percent of the 
nations dancers, including three states with no dancer employment reported. Sixteen 
percent of working musicians were spread among half of the states And the District 
of Columbia. 

A significant trend over the last twenty years has been the Increasing importance 
of the performing artist workforce in the South, notably dancers and musicians- 
composers. B) 1990 nearly one thud of the members ot those two professions were 
concentrated in the South Atlantic division. The overall proportion of actors and 

directors in the South, on the other band, Stayed at about one out of five over the 

twenty years, despite a small Increase in then percentage in the South Atlantic states. 



110 1 Artists in the Work Force 



Conclusion 

The most recent data from the Census and other sources discussed here leave 
little doubt that performing artists face a cluster of labor market obstacles, ranging 
from a shortage of full time jobs to a lack of steady income from their profession to 
the limited geographic areas where work is likely to be found. As a result, the talents 
and resources of the nation's performers are significantly underutilized. In the 
interests of promoting and nurturing the arts in this country, the government, 
through NEA, would seem to have a direct stake in improving the employment and 
earnings opportunities for performing artists. 

Aji understanding of the work force needs of performing artists is shaped by the 
ability to observe and document those needs. This cannot be done with precision at 
present. The incidence of multiple jobs and income sources, and the on-again, off- 
again employment patterns common in this field complicate any analysis of the 
performers' work experience. The primary source of data, the Census long form 
questionnaire, is not designed to gather the detailed data needed to explain their 
situation. The authors therefore recommend that the NEA consider how to 
encourage the development of additional data sources which could include: 

(1) Special surveys of performing artists. The best way to overcome the gaps left by 
the Census and CPS questionnaires would be to develop a national survey of 
performing artists. This will require cooperation from performing arts unions, 
theatres, dance organizations and others with lists of members of employees from 
which the survey samples could be drawn. Longitudinal studies of performing 
artists as they pursue their careers would be of the utmost importance and 
interest. 

(2) Records of organizations in the field, including unions and performing arts 
organizations. Public and private cooperation should be sought in developing 
new data sources, building on existing resources of these organizations. As labor 
organizations in the field develop their own databases and computer capacity, the 
NEA should consider providing technical assistance to help them design data 
systems that will also meet national informational needs through easy 
accessibility and standardized record keeping that does not compromise the 
required level of confidentiality. 

(3) A special Current Population Survey questionnaire on performing arts 
employment. This should be administered periodically to obtain regular, current 
information from the general population on income and employment in 
performing arts occupations. This special CPS should include questions to 
identify persons who consider themselves performing artists and to differentiate 
between their arts related and non-arts related work and income. 

Employment opportunities in the performing arts obviously depend on a 
sustained level of support for drama, dance and music. A continuing priority for 
the Endowment should be to undertake activities that encourage public and 



Employment and Earnings of Performing Artists, 1 970 to 1 990 1111 



private investment in the performing arts, as well as to develop and expand 
audiences. Special attention should be given to activities that will generate jobs 
and income for professionals in the performing arts. 

About the Authors 

Ann Kay is a senior member of Ruttenberg, Kilgallon & Associates, a 
Washington, DC, based labor consulting firm. She coordinated the firm's 1980 
survey of employment and earnings among members of performing arts unions, 
which resulted in the 1981 report, Working — and Not Working — in the Performing 
Arts. She has also conducted a variety of research and evaluation studies on other 
issues related to employment and skill development. 

Steve Butcher is a doctoral candidate in economics at The American University 
in Washington, DC. He is also employed by Ruttenberg, Kilgallon & Associates 
where he consults for labor unions on a variety of issues including earnings and 
working conditions. His only direct experience with the performing arts was a junior 
high school performance in Peter Pan as Michael; it was panned by the critics. 



IV. Architecture and Design 
Arts Occupations, 1 970 to 1 990 



by Harry Hillman Chartrand 

Overview 



Architects and designers are the visual ecologists of our society. They cultivate the 
images and forms that shape the human environment, applying the insights 
and findings of the fine arts to our daily lives. They shape, color and mold the 
skylines of our cities, clothes, shopping centers, cereal packages, houses, furniture, 
TV sets, offices, factories, churches and temples of today's society. Architects and 
designers contribute what the ancient Greeks called kosmosr. the right ordering of the 
multiple parts of the world. 

Even the words and sayings of architects and designers form part of our 
contemporary vocabulary. It was Louis Sullivan, architect of the first skyscraper, the 
Wainwright Building in St. Louis (1890), who said, "Form follows function." Frank 
Lloyd Wright coined the phrase, "Organic architecture." Mies van der Rohe, 
godfather of the International Style, is credited with saying, "Less is more." 

If architects and designers are concerned with the present, preservationists are 
dedicated to conserving the past — Williamsburg, for example — while planners are 
concerned with the shape of the future. 

But who are these shapers of image and molders of form? What is their age, race, 
ethnicity, sex and education? Where do they live and work and how much do they 
earn? These questions will be addressed in this study. 

Evidence 

Two principal sets of data will be presented and assessed. Of course, statistics 
cannot explore quality and excellence in architecture and design, but they do provide 
a means to understand the factual context from which quality and excellence emerge. 

The first set of statistics is produced by the Bureau of the Census of the 
Department of Commerce, the National Center for Education Studies of the 
Department of Education, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Department of 
Labor. Their advantages and disadvantages are discussed in the general introduction 
to this report. The second set of data is from membership organizations including the 
American Institute of Architects, the American Society for Landscape Architects, the 
Industrial Designers Society of America, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and 
the American Planning Institute. Advantages and disadvantages of such data sets are 
also in the general introduction. 



112 



Architecture and Design Arts Occupations, 1970 to 1990 1113 



Both data sets have been primarily collected from databases and special studies 
conducted or commissioned by the Research Division of the National Endowment 
for the Arts. These include the biennial Source Book of Arts Statistics. In addition, a 
special data set was provided by Deirdre Gaquin of Washington (1990 Census of 
Population data). 

Difficulties 

Definitional difficulties occur when comparing Census of Population data with 
that from the Bureau of Labor and from representative organizations. For example, 
the Census of Population's Classified Index of Industries and Occupations identifies 13 
job titles for architects, including landscape architects. Census of Population data is 
presented for all 13 types of architects. In the case of Bureau of Labor Statistics data, 
architects and landscape architects are reported separately, as are data from the 
American Institute of Architects and the American Society for Landscape Architects. 
In all cases, however, marine and naval architects are excluded. 

For designers, the situation is worse. The Census of Population for 1980 and 
1990 identifies at least 98 occupational titles under "Designer," ranging from 
window trimmers to industrial designers to flower arrangers to fashion designers. By 
contrast, the Occupational Handbook 1992-93 of the Department of Labor formally 
defines six design occupations as follows: Industrial designers, interior designers, set 
designers, fashion designers, textile designers and floral designers. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, on the other hand, distinguishes between 
designers, interior designers, and merchandising displayers and window trimmers. As 
well, distinct data is available for graphic and industrial designers from the 
representative associations. Educational data provide the finest degree of distinction 
between the various design disciplines. 

In addition, Census of Population data for different years have been derived from 
different sample sizes. For example, data for the 1950 through 1980 Census (Citro 
and Gaquin 1987) are derived from a 5 percent sample, while some Census data for 
1970 through 1990 (Ellis, Beresford 1994) have been derived from a 16." 7 percent 
sample. Such differences can cause analysis to be somewhat jerky, bouncing from one 
data definition and sometimes sample size to another. 

Regarding urban and regional planners and preservationists, no Census of 
Population data were available for purposes of this study, so no trend analysis was 
possible. Preservation is, at present, mainly a speciality practiced by architects, 
designers and planners. 

Trends 

A "trend" refers to the general direction of a phenomenon over time. For 
purposes of this study, this means the general direction of demographic 
characteristics, education, employment and earnings of architects .\\m\ designers. 



114 1 Artists in the Work Force 



When discussing trends for a demographic or economic variable, a convenient 
summary measure is the average rate of growth. Growth rates have three strengths. 
First, while one cannot compare apples and oranges, one can quite properly compare 
the rate of growth of apples and oranges. Second, growth rates, as a single number, 
provide a succinct summary of trends. Third, theoretically, growth rates can be used 
to project trends into the future, assuming the future reflects the past. 

For purposes of this study, the restricted least squares method is used because it is 
considered the best single indicator of the trend. 

Comparative Occupational Groups 

The general introduction to this NEA report on artists defines the three 
occupational groups of experienced civilian labor force (ECLF), professional specialty 
workers (PSW) and all artists. 

Trends in architect and designer demographics, education, employment and 
income will be compared to these three groups. 

Between 1970 and 1990, the experienced civilian labor force grew at an average 
rate of 24.3 percent each decade from 80.1 million to 123.5 million. In this same 
time period professional specialty workers grew at an average rate of 21.5 percent 
each decade from 1 1.7 million to 16.6 million workers. Between 1970 and 1990, all 
artists grew at an average rate of 57.1 percent each decade from 1 1.7 million to 16.6 
million workers. 

The number of architects between 1970 and 1990 grew at an average rate of 60.1 
percent each decade from 56,125 to 157,759. 

Until 1980, decorators and designers were recognized as distinct occupational 
categories in the Census of Population. Drawing upon Citro and Gaquin (1987), the 
distinction is maintained whenever possible. Between 1970 and 1990, decorators and 
designers grew at an average rate of 78.9 percent each decade from 185,954 to 600,810. 

Decorators increased between 1970 and 1990 at an average rate of 82.1 percent 
each decade from 74,004 in 1970 to 240,800 in 1990. During this time designers 
increased at an average rate of 76.9 percent each decade from 111,950 in 1970 to 
360,000 in 1990. 

The total number of artists was 6 percent of all professional specialty workers in 
1970 and had increased to 10 percent by 1990. Architects represented 0.5 percent of 
PSW in 1970 and then increased to 1 percent in 1990. Decorators and designers 
advanced from 1.6 percent of all PSW in 1970 to 3.6 percent in 1990. 

As a percent of all artists, architects went from 5 percent in 1970 to 9.4 percent 
in 1990. During this time decorators and designers represented 27.7 percent of all 
artists in 1970 and 35.8 percent in 1990. 

Architects 

Definitions 

To provide a basic understanding of architectural occupations, descriptions 
derived from the Occupational Handbook 1992-93 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1993) 



Architecture and Design Arts Occupations, 1 970 to 1 990 1115 



will be used for architects and landscape architects. 

The Handbook notes that architects provide a variety of services to individuals 
and organizations from initial discussion with clients through constructions 
requiring a variety of skills including design, engineering, managerial and 
supervisory 

The architect and client must first discuss purposes, requirements and budget. 
Based on these discussions, the architect prepares a report specifying requirements 
and prepares drawings presenting ways to meet a client's needs. 

After the initial proposal is accepted, the architect develops final construction 
documents showing the building's appearance, including drawings of structural 
systems (air-conditioning, electrical, heating, plumbing and ventilation) and 
sometimes landscape plans. Architects also specify building materials and sometimes 
interior furnishings. They must follow building codes, zoning bylaws, fire regulations 
and such ordinances as access for the handicapped. 

The architect may assist in getting construction bids, selecting a contractor and 
negotiating contracts. S(he) may be engaged to ensure contractors follow the design, 
use specified materials and meet quality standards. The job is not completed until all 
construction is finished, required tests performed and construction costs paid. 

Architects design a variety of buildings — offices, apartments, schools, churches, 
factories, hospitals, houses and airports — as well as such multi-building complexes as 
urban centers, college campuses, industrial parks and entire communities. In 
addition to design, architects may advise on site selection, cost and land-use studies 
and long-range land development. 

Some specialize in one type of building, in construction management or in 
managing their own firm, doing little design work. They often work with engineers, 
urban planners, interior designers and landscape architects. 

Landscape Architects 

The Handbook notes that landscape architects design residential areas, parks, 
campuses, shopping centers, golf courses, parkways and industrial parks to be 
functional, beautiful, and compatible with their setting. They plan building 
locations, roads and walkways, arrangements of flowers, shrubs and trees. They 
redesign streets to limit car traffic and improve pedestrian access and safety. They also 
work on natural resource conservation and historical preservation. 

Landscape architects may be hired by organizations like real estate developers 
starting new projects and municipalities constructing airports or parks. Often they 
are involved from project conception and work with architects and engineers 
determining the best arrangement of roads and buildings. Thev develop plans 
indicating new topology, vegetation, walkways and landscape amenities. 

Landscape architects discuss with clients the purpose of the project and funds 
available. They analyze site elements such as climate, soil, slope, drainage and 
vegetation. They observe the fall of sunlight and access to existing buildings, roads, 
walkways and utilities. Then they prepare preliminary plans which are subject to 



116 1 Artists in the Work Force 



change. Many now use Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD) and video 
simulators to help clients access proposals. 

Working with other professionals in the design phase, once the design is 
complete, landscape architects draw up detailed plans, including written reports, 
sketches, models, photographs, land-use studies and cost estimates. Once the plan is 
approved, they prepare working drawings showing existing and proposed features, 
outline methods of construction and materials required. Many supervise installation 
of their design. Some are involved in construction, but this is generally done by a 
contractor or developer. 

Some landscape architects work on a variety of projects, while others specialize 
in residential, historical, restoration, water improvements, parks, playgrounds or 
shopping centers. Others work in regional planning and resource development, 
feasibility, environmental impact and cost studies, or site construction. Yet others 
teach at the college or university level. 

Membership 

While Census data does not distinguish between types of architects, two data sets 
provide a more detailed view of the profession: the American Institute of Architects 
(ALA) and the American Society of Landscape Architects (AS LA). 

If one accepts the 1990 Census count of 157,759 architects in the experienced 
civilian labor force and, further, that membership in the ALA and ASLA is mutually ex- 
clusive (which is not necessarily true), then the 56,802 ALA members represented 36.0 
percent of all architects and the 10,443 ASLA members, 6.6 percent. The remaining 
90,514 or 57.4 percent of Census architects were not affiliated with either organization. 

Age 

Data concerning the age distribution of architects is available only from the 
Census of Population. Accordingly, all architects are reported, including landscape 
architects. (Exhibit 1) 

Between 1970 and 1990 architects of all ages increased at an average rate of 60.1 
percent each decade from 56,125 in 1970 to 157,759 in 1990. 

Architects aged 16 to 24 increased at an average rate of 29.6 percent each decade 
from 3,175 in 1970 to 7,245 in 1990. 

Architects aged 25 to 34 years increased between 1970 and 1990 at an average 
rate of 62.3 percent each decade from 15,300 in 1970 to 53,032 in 1990. As a 
percent of all architects, they increased from 27.7 percent in 1970 to 33.6 percent in 
1990. 

Between 1970 and 1990 architects from 35 and 44 years increased at an average 
rate of 92.6 percent each decade from 15,500 in 1970 to 52,256 in 1990. As a 
percent of all architects they grew from 27.7 percent in 1970 to 33.1 percent in 1990. 

Those aged between 45 and 54 years increased between 1970 and 1990 at an 
average rate of 40.6 percent each decade from 1 1,900 in 1970 to 24,266 in 1990. As 



Architecture and Design Arts Occupations, 1970 to 1990 I 117 



Exhibit 1 

Percentage Distribution of Census Architects 

by Age Category. 1970 & 1990 



All 
56.125 




65+ Yrs 
5.522 
or 3.5 



All 
157.759 




45-54 Yrs \ 
24,266 

or 15.4% 



a percent of all architects they decreased from 21.2 percent in 1970 to 15.4 percent 
in 1990. 

Architects from 55 to 64 years increased at an average rate 44.0 percent each 
decade from 7,250 in 1970 to 15,438 in 1990. They decreased from 1 2.9 percent in 
1970 to 9.8 percent in 1990 as a percent of all architects. 

Those over 65 years increased between 1970 and 1990 an average rate of 47.0 
percent each decade from 2,625 in 1970 to 5,522 in 1990. As a percent of all 
architects they went from 4.7 percent in 1970 to 3.5 percent in 1990. 

Ethnicity and Race 



Data concerning ethnicity and race oi architects are presented from the 1970, 

1980 and 1990 Census of Population. It reports all architects (Exhibit 2). Data ate 
also presented for members of the .American Institute for Architecture. The two data 
sets are not directly comparable. 

Between 1970 and 1990 Hispanic architects increased at an average rate ol 124 
percent each decade from 938 in 1970 to 8,006 in 1990. This was significantly faster 
than growth of Hispanics in the general labor force (74 percent per decade), raster 
than growth of Hispanics among professional specialty workers ( l) T(-> percent per 
decade), and faster than growth in I [ispanics among artists in general ( 1 13.6 percent 



118 1 Artists in the Work Force 







Exhibit 2 




Percentage Distribution of Census Architects by 
Selected Racial Categories. 1970, 1980 & 1990 






Black other 






1,273 v - 1,601 
or 2.4% \ / or 3% 

yT\ 




All 


' " ) 




53,670 \ 


v J 




White 

50,796 

or 94.6% 


1970 

Black other 

3,013 v - 5,549 

or 2.8% \ / or 5.2% 

y^W^y 




All / 


1\ 




107,693 


T 




y 


v J 




White 

99.131 

or 92.0% 


1980 






Black 
4,429 x 
or 2.8% X 


Other 

S* 10,539 

/ or 6.7% 




All / 








156,874 






A 






White 
141,906 
or 90.5% 


1990 



per decade). As a percent of all architects, they increased from 1.8 percent in 1970 to 
5.1 percent in 1990. The number of non-Hispanic architects decreased from 98.8 
percent of all architects in 1990 to 94.9 percent in 1990. 

Black or Afro-American architects increased at an average rate of 70.5 percent 
each decade from 1,273 in 1970 to 4,429 in 1990. This was faster than growth of 
whites (59.1 percent per decade), but significantly slower than growth among 
architects of other races, for example Asians (118.7 percent). Black architects did, 
however, increase in numbers faster than blacks in the general labor force (an average 
rate of 26.6 percent per decade), faster than blacks among professional specialty 
workers (at an average rate of 55.2 percent per decade), but slower than blacks among 



Architecture and Design Arts Occupations, 1970 to 1990 I 119 



artists in general (at an average rate of 72.3 percent per decade). As a percent of all 
architects, blacks increased from 2.4 percent in 1970 to 2.8 percent in 1990. 

If one compares 1990 Census data with reported 1989 members of the American 
Institute of Architects. Census Hispanic architects were 5.1 percent of all architects 
compared with 2.9 percent of AIA members. Census blacks represented 2.8 percent 
of all architects compared to 1.7 percent of AIA members. Whites represented 90.5 
percent of all Census architects compared to 89.4 percent of AIA members. 

Residence 



Data concerning the residence of architects is available from the Census of 
Population and the two representative architectural associations. It is presented here for 
the four principal Census regions: the Northeast, South, Midwest and West (Exhibit 3). 



Exhibit 3 

Percentage Distribution Architects by Region 

1970 & 1990 



West 

13,625 

or 24.3°/c 




All 
157.759 




1990 



Between 1970 and 1990 architects living in the Northeast increased at an average 
rate of 69.6 percent each decade from 15,375 in 1970 to 41,596 In 1990. As a 
percent of all architects, they decreased from 27.4 percent in 1970 to 26.4 percent in 
1990. They were 26.4 percent of all architects in 1990. 

Architects living in the South increased at an average rate of 60.3 percent each 
decade from 14,150 in 1970 to 43,141 in 1990. They were 27.4 percent of all 
architects in 1990. 



1 20 I Artists in the Work Force 



Midwestern architects increased at an average rate of 41 percent each decade from 
12,975 in 1970 to 27,566 in 1990. They were 17.5 percent of all architects in 1990. 

Western architects increased at an average rate of 66.5 percent each decade from 
13,625 in 1970 to 45,456 in 1990. They represented 28.8 percent of all architects in 
1990. 

A comparison of the 1990 Census regional distribution with the 1990 
membership in the American Institute of Architects and the 1991 membership in the 
American Society for Landscape Architects shows that: 

•the Northeast accounted for 26.4 percent of Census architects, 21.5 percent of 
AIA members and 21.4 percent of ASLA members. 

•the South accounted for 27.4 percent of Census architects, 31.8 percent of AIA 
members and 34.7 percent of ASLA members. 

•the Midwest accounted for 17.5 percent of Census architects, 19.9 percent of 
AIA members and 17.4 percent of ASLA members, and 

•the West accounted for 28.8 percent of Census architects, 26.4 percent of AIA 
members and 26.5 percent of ASLA members. 

Gender 

Data concerning the gender of architects is available from the Census of 
Population and from reporting members of the AIA. 

Between 1970 and 1990 female architects increased on an average rate of 180.1 
percent per decade from 2,075 in 1970 to 23,723 in 1990. This compares with an 
average rate growth among women in the ECLF of 24.5 percent, of 41.1 percent 
among PSW and 86.9 percent among all artists. As a percentage of all architects, 
women went from 3.7 percent in 1970 to 17.7 percent in 1990. 

Comparing the 1990 Census with the reported 1989 AIA members shows 
women were 17.7 percent of Census architects and 9.2 percent of AIA members. 

Education and Licensing Requirements 

According to the Occupational Handbook, all states and the District of Columbia 
require licensing before calling oneself an architect or contracting to provide 
architectural services. While many architectural school graduates work in the field 
without being licensed, a licensed architect is legally responsible for all work. 
Licensing usually requires a professional architectural degree, a period of practical 
training or internship (usually three years) and passing the Architect Registration 
Examination. 

In most states the professional degree is from one of 96 architectural schools 
accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. There are several types 
of degree. Over half of all architects have a five-year Bachelor of Architecture. There 
is a two-year Master's with a pre-professorial degree in architecture or a selected area 
and three- or four-year Master's for those with a degree in another discipline. Many 
combinations and variations of these programs also exist. 



Architecture and Design Arts Occupations, 1970 to 1990 I 121 



A typical five-year Bachelor program includes architectural history and theory, 
building design including technical and legal requirements, math, physical sciences 
and liberal arts. Many schools also offer graduate programs beyond a professional 
degree for research, teaching and certain specialties. 

With respect to landscape architects, the Handbook notes that a Bachelor's or 
Master's degree in landscape architecture is usually required. The Bachelor's program 
is usually four to five years. Of the two types of Master's degrees, a three-year program 
is for those with a Bachelor's degree in another discipline (most common), and a two- 
year program is for those with a Bachelor's in landscape architecture. 

In 1990, 51 colleges and universities offered 61 undergrad and grad programs 
accredited by the American Society for Landscape Architecture. Typically, courses 
include surveying, landscape design and construction, ecology, structural design, city 
and regional planning, history of landscape architecture, plant and soil science, 
geology, design and color theory and general management. The design studio is an 
important aspect of the curriculum. Students are assigned real projects providing 
hands-on experience. Prerequisites often include English, math and social science. 

Some 44 states require licensing based on the Uniform National Examination 
(UNE), admission to which usually requires a degree from an accredited school plus 
one to four years work experience. Some states require an additional exam on law and 
plants indigenous to that state. The federal government does not require a license. 

In states requiring licenses, entrants are called interns until licensed. They may 
do research, prepare base maps or participate in actual design work, supervised by a 
licensed landscape architect who takes legal responsibility. After several years beyond 
receiving their license, they may become associates or partners, or open their own offices. 

Attainment 

Data concerning the educational attainment of architects is available from the 
Census of Population, the Department of Education and the American Society for 
Landscape Architects. 

Architects with only elementary education declined at an average rate of -56.1 
percent each decade from 1 , 1 50 in 1 970 to 1 58 in 1 990. As a percent of all architects 
they decreased from 2.1 percent in 1970 to 0.1 percent in 1990. (Exhibit 4) 

Architects with one and three years of high school education decreased at an 
average rate of -8.6 percent each decade from 1,600 in 1 1 )~0 to 1,150 in 1990. 
Compared to all architects, they declined from 2.9 percent in 1970 to 0.7 in 1990. 

Between 1970 and 1990 architects with four wars of high school increased at an 
average rate of 13.1 percent each decade from 4, v 25 in 1970 to 6,676 in 1 990. As a per- 
cent of all architects, they decreased from 8.4 percent in 1970 to 4.2 percent in 1990. 

Architects with one to three years of college or university education increased 
between 1970 and 1990 at an average rate of 68.8 percent each decade from 7,500 
in 1970 to 23,256 in 1990. Compared to all architects, they increased from 13.4 
percent in 1970 to 14.7 percent in 1990. 

Architects with four years or more of college or university education increased at 



122 I Artists in the Work Force 



Exhibit 4 

Percentage Distribution of Census 

Architects by Education 

1970 & 1990 



Elementary 
1.150 

or 2.1% 



High School 

1-3 Yrs 

1.600 

or 2.9% 




College 

4 Yrs 

41,150 

or 73.3% 



High School 

4 Yrs 

4,725 

or 8.4% 



College 

1-3 

7,500 

or 13.4% 



1970 



Elementary 

158 

or 0.1% 



High School 
1-3 Yrs 
1,150 




High School 

4 Yrs 

6.676 

or 4.2% 



College 

1-3 

23,256 

or 14.7% 



College 

4 Yrs 

126,519 

or 80.2% 



1990 



Percentage Distribution of Degrees Awarded in 

Architecture and Landscape Architecture 

1988-1989 




Bachelor 



or 73.3°/< 



Architecture 




Landscape Architecture 



an average rate of 68.4 percent each decade from 41,150 in 1970 to 126,519 in 
1990. As a percent of all architects, they increased from 73.3 percent in 1970 to 80.2 
percent in 1990. 

Degrees and Enrollment 

Using Department of Education data, in 1988-89 there were 6,386 college or 
university degrees awarded in architecture at the Bachelor level (73.3 percent of 
degrees), Master's (26.2 percent) and Doctoral (0.5 percent). There were 1,164 
degrees in landscape architecture awarded at the Bachelor level (75-9 percent) and at 
the Master's level (24.1 percent). Data from the American Society for Landscape 
Architecture indicate an increasing professionalism in the field. In 1971 there were 
22 accredited programs in landscape architecture of which 18.2 percent were at the 
Master's level. By 1991 there were 64 accredited programs of which 36.1 percent 
were at the Master's level. Female students in accredited programs in 1990-91 
represented almost 31 percent of all students, compared to 15 percent of 1990 
Census architects. 



Architecture and Design Arts Occupations, 1970 to 1990 I 123 



Employment 

Data concerning the employment of architects are available from the Census of 
Population, Census of Service Industries and from two representative associations. 
Census data do not distinguish landscape architects from architects in general. 

Architects employed in the private sector increased at an average rate of 76.2 
percent each decade from 28,225 in 1970 to 92,029 in 1990. As a percent of all 
architects, they increased from 49.3 percent in 1970 to 59.8 percent in 1990. (See 
Exhibit 5.) 

Between 1970 and 1990 architects employed in the public sector increased at an 
average rate of 25.3 percent from 6,775 in 1970 to 1 1,208 in 1990. As a percent of 
architects, they decreased from 12.2 percent in 1970 to 7.3 percent in 1990. 

Self-employed architects increased at an average rate of 47.1 percent each decade 
from 20,375 in 1970 to 50,535 in 1990. As a percent of all architects, they decreased 
from 36.7 percent in 1970 to 32.8 percent in 1990. 

The unemployment rate for architects was 1.2 percent in 1970 and 2.4 percent in 
1990. This compares with experienced civilian labor force unemployment of 4.1 percent 
in 1970 and 5.5 percent in 1990. For professional special workers the corresponding 
rates were 1.8 percent unemployed in 1970 and 2.1 percent in 1990. For all artists, the 
corresponding rates were 4.5 percent in 1970 and 4.8 percent in 1990. 

The 1980 and 1990 Census shows that full-time architects increased as a percent- 
age of all architects from 70.7 percent in 1980 to 73.2 percent in 1990. Accordingly, 
more than a quarter of all architects work only part-time. Female architects accounted 
for 1 1.8 percent of full-time architects in 1990, but 25.7 percent of part-time architects. 



Exhibit 5 




Growth Rate of Census Architects by Class of Work 


1970-1990 




% 25 50 75 


100 


All 
Private 


i i 


i 


I 
59.6% 

76.2% 

25.3% 




Public 




Self- 




Employed 


i i i 


47.1% 

i 


1970-1990 



124 I Artists in the Work Force 



By Industry 

While over 75 percent of Census architects in 1990 were employed in the 
professional service industries (mainly architectural, engineering and surveying 
firms), architects were also employed elsewhere. Of the other industries reporting 
architects, 12 percent were in agriculture, 3.5 percent in public administration, 2.8 
percent in both construction and manufacturing, 2.1 percent in transportation, 
communications and public utilities, 2.1 percent in educational services, 1.4 percent 
in retail trade, finance, insurance, real estate and business and repair services 
industries (Exhibit 6). 



Exhibit 6 

Percentage Distribution of Census Architects 

by Major Industries. 1990 



10 



15 



000's 




Agriculture 17,000 or 12.0% M 

Construction 4,000 or 2.8% 
Manufacturing 4,000 or 2.8% 

Transportation, Communications & Public Utilities 
3,000 or 2.1% 

Retail Trade 2,000 or 1 .4% 

Finance, Insurance & Real Estate 2,000 or 1.4% 

Business & Repair Services 2,000 or 1 .4% 

Educational Services 3,000 or 2.1% 
Public Administration 5,000 or 3.5% 

"excludes 107,000 in Professional Services or 75.4% 



Total Reported 

142,000 architects 
or 100.0% 



The Census of Service industries provides a breakout of architects from 
landscape architects. In 1987, within the broad category called Construction, 
Finance and Service Industries, 62,520 architects were employed, representing 
0.5 percent of employment in industries reporting these occupations. Of these, 85 
percent were general architects working in miscellaneous service industries; 8.4 
percent were landscape architects employed in miscellaneous service industries; 4 
percent were general architects employed in the construction industries and 2.7 
percent were general architects in business services industries. 



Establishments 



Architectural services are provided by three types of businesses: architectural, 
engineering and surveying service establishments. In 1982 engineering 
establishments employed 5,218 architects (compared to 31,871 by architectural 



Architecture and Design Arts Occupations, 1970 to 1990 I 125 



firms), while in 1987 surveying establishments employed 158 architects (compared 
to 40,583 by architectural service firms). For purposes of this analysis, no further 
reference will be made to engineering or surveying service establishments. 

The number of architectural services firms increased from 13,414 in 1982 to 
17,777 in 1987. Total receipts increased from $5.9 to $9.9 billion. Paid employees 
increased from 105,270 to 136,809, while architects as a percent of total 
employment declined from 30.3 percent to 29.7 percent. The number of sole 
proprietors increased from 8,039 in 1982 to 8,950 in 1987. Compared to all 
establishments, sole proprietorships declined from 59.9 percent in 1982 to 50.4 
percent in 1987. 

Regarding the distribution of architectural establishments, staff and fees by 
project type, source and client for 1982 and 1987, in-house projects generated $5.1 
billion in 1982 and $8.6 billion in 1987. Of total in-house work, commercial 
buildings accounted for more than 40 percent, while public and institutional 
facilities accounted for more than 25 percent in each year. All other types of projects 
accounted for less than 1 percent of revenues. 

As to the source of receipts including work done outside of architectural firms, 
on average for both years: architectural services, excluding landscape architecture, 
produced more than 75 percent of revenues; work done outside, but reimbursable, 
more than 10 percent; consulting and design engineering more than 6 percent and 
all other activities accounted for the balance. 

Regarding fees from clients, on average: industrial, business and commercial 
clients paid more than 33 percent; government more than 23 percent; private 
institutions more than 17 percent; private individuals more than 8 percent and all 
other clients, less than 19 percent. 

Regionally, the Northeast accounted for 21.9 percent of all establishments in 
1987 and 24.1 percent of all receipts; the South for 32.1 percent of the firms and 
29.4 percent of receipts; the Midwest for 18.1 percent of firms and receipts and the 
West for 28.7 percent of firms and 28.4 percent of receipts. 

By contrast, firms in the Northeast belonging to the American Institute for 
Architecture accounted for 23 percent of all AIA firms; the South for 32 percent; the 
Midwest for 1 5 percent and the West for 30 percent. 

Income 

Data about the income of architects are available from the Census of Population 
and two representative associations. Census data due to definition changes are 
presented only for 1980 and 1990, so no meaningful growth rate analysis is possible. 

In 1990 architects working full-time and earning $7,500 or less accounted for 
1.9 percent of all architects; those earning $7,500 to $14,999 in the year before the 
Census, 3.3 percent; $15,000 to $24,999, 13.6 percent; $25,000 to $3 &,999, 23.4 
percent; $35,000 to $49,999, 29.4 percent; $50,000 to $69,999, 16.2 percent; 
$70,000 to $99,999, 6.2 percent and those earning more than Si 00,000, 6 percent 
(Exhibit 7). 



126 Artists in the Work Force 






- I 




■ MMMH 
- - ■ I - 



'edian income for full-time male architects was S40,l 10 and for females, 

_ 451 * "3.4 percent of males. Median full-time earnings of male architects were 

141 percent of the median full time earnings of males in the experienced civilian 

labor force; equal to earnings of male professional specialty workers and 129 percent 

of artists median full-time earnings. 

-chitects living in households with an annual income under S 1 5-000 in the year 
before the Census accounted for 3.4 percent of all architects; those earning $15,000 
to S24.999, 5.9 percer 34,999, 11.4 percent; $35,000 to $49,999, 

20.4 p j,000 to $64,999, 19.2 percent; $65,000 to $94,999, 23.4 percent; 

S9: Do SI 24,999, 8.2 percent and those earning more than $125,000 the year 

before the Census, 8 percent. 

The median household income for male architects was $56,952 and for females, 

r ,639 or 9".~ 7 percent of males. The median household income with either a male 

or female architect was 5 5 3. Median household income of all architects was 140 

percent that of the experienced civilian labor force, 109 percent of professional 

specialty* workers and 128 percent of art: 

Exhibit 8 shows the median annual compensation of ALA members by position 
in 199 

Members of the .American Society* for Landscape Architects working in the 
private sector in 1991 had an annual median income, from all sources, of $43,575. 



Architecture and Design Arts Occupations, 1970 to 1990 I 127 



Exhibit 8 
Median Annual Compensation of Members of the 
American Institute of Architects by Position. 1990. 



20,000 

— r~ 



40,000 



60,000 



80,000 




Principal $57,700 

4,282 Positions in 

2,481 Firms 



Associate 545,000 
1 ,655 Positions in 686 Firms 




Manager $42,000 
1 ,234 Positions in 412 Firms 



Architect III $37,000 
1 ,262 Positions in 427 Firms 



Architect II $33,800 
4,282 Positions in 2,481 Firms 



Architects I $30,000 
4,282 Positions in 2,481 Firms 




Intern $24,000 
2.884 Positions in 1,224 Firms 



Landscape Architect $33,000 
120 Positions in 62 Firms 



Those working in the public sector earned $41,475, while those in academic 
positions earned $49,350. 

Designers 

To provide a basic understanding of design occupations, descriptions derived 
from the Occupational Handbook 1992-93 Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1993) are given 
here. 

Designers organize and design articles, products and materials to serve a purpose 
and to be visually pleasing. Pleasant surroundings, beautiful clothes and floral 
arrangements boost our spirits, while eye-catching products and packaging are more 
likely to attract buyers. Designers usually specialize, for example on cars, furniture, 
home appliances, industrial equipment, movie and theater sets, packaging, flower 
arrangements, etc. 

In developing a design they first determine the needs of the client and potential 
users. They consider size, shape, weight, color, materials and the way a product 
functions, as well as maintenance, safety and cost. They take into account — and 
often set — style and fashion trends. They usually sketch several possible designs 
which are present for final selection to an art or design director, a product 



1 28 I Artists in the Work Force 



development team, a play, film or television director, or a client. 

The designer then makes a model, sample or detailed plan drawn to scale. 
Increasingly, Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD) is used, while industrial 
designers use Computer Aided Industrial Design (CAID) to create a design and 
communicate it to automated production tools. 

Designers may supervise craft workers who carry out the design. Owners may 
devote much time to developing business contacts and to administrative tasks like 
reviewing catalogs and samples. 

Design is not one but a number of fields including: 

• Industrial Designers develop and design manufactured products like appliances, 
cars, computers, medical, office and recreation equipment and children's toys. 
They combine artistic talent with market research on product use, marketing, 
materials and production methods to create the most functional and appealing 
design and make products competitive in the marketplace. 

• Interior Designers plan space and furnish interiors of homes, hotels, offices, 
public buildings, restaurants, stores and theaters. With a client's tastes and needs 
in mind they prepare working drawings and specifications for interior 
construction, furnishings, lighting and finishes including crown moldings, 
coordinating colors and selecting furnishings, floor and window coverings. They 
also plan additions and renovations. They must design in accordance with 
federal, state and local building codes. 

• Set Designers study scripts, confer with directors and conduct research to 
determine appropriate styles and then design sets for film, television and theater. 

• Fashion Designers design wearing apparel and accessories. Some high-fashion 
designers are self-employed and design for individual clients. They make fashion 
by establishing the "line" and colors. Some cater to specialty stores or high- 
fashion department stores. They design original garments, as well as follow 
established trends. Most work for apparel manufacturers and adapt clothing to 
the mass market. 

• Textile Designers design fabrics for garments, upholstery, rugs and other 
products using their knowledge of materials and fashion trends. 

• Floral Designers cut and arrange fresh, dried or artificial flowers and foliage into 
designs expressing the sentiments of the sender. Duties depend on the size of the 
shop and the number of designers. 

Membership 

While Census data does not distinguish between types of decorators and 
designers, it does identify 98 distinct occupations. Two data sets provide a more 
detailed view of the profession. The first is from the Industrial Designers Society of 
America (IDSA). The second is from the American Institute of Graphic Arts. 
Summary findings on data from all federal sources and from the two representative 
associations are given below. 



Architecture and Design Arts Occupations, 1970 to 1990 I 129 



Age 



Data concerning the age distribution of decorators and designers is available only 
from the Census of Population and only for combined decorators and designers. The 
combined group of all ages increased between 1970 and 1990 at an average rate of 
78.9 percent each decade from 185,954 in 1970 to 600,810 in 1990. 

The combined group aged 16 to 24 years increased at an average rate of 42.3 
percent each decade from 28,765 in 1970 to 65,526 in 1990. As a percent of all 
combined decorators and designers, they declined from 15.5 percent in 1970 to 10.9 
percent in 1990 (Exhibit 9). 



Exhibit 9 
Percentage Distribution of Census Combined Decorators 
Designers by Age Category. 1970 & 1990. 



All 

185,954 




65+ Yrs 
17,372 
or 2.9% 




Decorators and designers aged 25 ro 34 years increased at an average rate of 91.9 
percent each decade from 48,478 in 1970 to 200,628 in 1990. As a percent of 
combined decorators and designers they increased from 26.1 percent in 1970 to 33.4 
percent in 1990. 

Combined decorators and designers aged 35 to 44 years increased at an average 
rate of 112.2 percent each decade from 42,900 in 1970 to 169,075 in 1990. As a 
percent of all the combined group they increased from 2}. 1 in 1 1 )~*0 to 28.1 in 1990. 

Between 1970 and 1990 decorators and designers aged 45 to 54 increased at an 
average rate of 71.4 percent each decade from 36,468 in 1970 to 97,821 in 1990. As 



1 30 I Artists in the Work Force 



a percent of all decorators and designers they decreased from 19.6 percent in 1970 to 
16.3 percent in 1990. 

The group of decorators and designers aged 55 to 64 years increased at an 
average rate of 34.5 percent each decade from 29,039 in 1970 to 50,388 in 1990. As 
a percent of all decorators and designers, they decreased from 15.6 percent in 1970 
to 8.4 percent in 1990. 

The group 65 years and older increased at an average rate of 54.6 percent each 
decade from 7,354 in 1970 to 17,372 in 1990. As a percent of all decorators and 
designers, they decreased from 4 percent in 1970 to 2.9 percent in 1990. 

Ethnicity and Race 

Data concerning ethnicity and race of combined decorators and designers is 
presented from the 1970, 1980 and 1990 Census of Population. 

Between 1970 and 1990 Hispanic decorators and designers grew at an average 
rate of 130 percent each decade from 6,815 in 1970 to 32,296 in 1990. This was 
significantly faster than growth of Hispanics in the general labor force (an average 
rate of 74 percent per decade), faster than growth of Hispanics among professional 
specialty workers (an average rate of 97.6 percent per decade) and faster than growth 
in Hispanics among artists in general (an average rate of 113.6 per decade). As a 
percent of all decorators and designers, they increased from 2.9 percent in 1970 to 
5.3 percent in 1990. 

Between 1970 and 1990 black or Afro-American decorators and designers 
increased at an average rate of 106.5 percent each decade from 4,445 in 1970 to 
21,204 in 1990. This was faster than growth of whites (an average rate of 59.7 
percent per decade), but significantly slower than growth of decorators and designers 
of other races (an average rate of 180.5 percent). Black decorators and designers did, 
however, increase faster than blacks in the general labor force (an average rate of 26.6 
percent per decade), faster than blacks among professional specialty workers (an 
average rate of 55.2 percent per decade) and faster than blacks among all artists (an 
average rate of 72.3 percent per decade). As a percent of all decorators and designers, 
blacks went from 1.9 percent in 1970 to 3.6 percent in 1990. Whites declined from 
96 percent in 1970 to 90.2 in 1990. Other races increased from 2.1 percent in 1970 
to 6.2 percent in 1990 (Exhibit 10). 

Residence 

Data concerning the residence of decorators and designers came from the Census 
of Population, the Industrial Designers Society of America and the American 
Institute of Graphic Arts. It is presented for the Northeast, South, Midwest and West 
(Exhibit 11). 

Designers and decorators living in the Northeast increased at an average rate of 
44.8 percent each decade from 75,766 in 1970 to 149,888 in 1990. Compared to all 
designers, they decreased from 32.5 percent in 1970 to 25 percent in 1990. 



Architecture and Design Arts Occupations, 1970 to 1990 I 131 



Exhibit 10 

Percentage Distribution of Census Combined 

Decorators & Designers by Selected 

Racial Category. 1970, 1980 & 1990. 



All 

232,890 



White " 
223,504 
or 96.0% 




1970 



Other 
13,053 
or 3.9% 




1990 



Exhibit 11 

Percentage Distribution of Census Combined 

Decorators & Designers by Region 

1970 & 1990 




Midwest 

58,764 

or 25.2% 



West 
145,527 
or 24.2% 



1970 



South 

53,886 

or 23.1% 




Those living in the South increased at an average rate of 78.5 percent each 
decade from 53,886 in 1970 to 168,390 in 1990. Compared to all designers, they 
grew from 23.1 percent in 1970 to 28 percent in 1990. 

Midwestern designers and decorators increased at an average rate of 58.5 percent 
from 58,764 in 1970 to 137,005 in 1990. As a percent of the total, they decreased 
from 25.2 percent in 1970 to 22.8 percent in 1990. 

Designers and decorators in the West increased at an average rate of 86.9 percent 



1 32 I Artists in the Work Force 



each decade from 44,474 in 1970 to 145,527 in 1990. As a percent of all designers, 
they increased from 19.1 percent in 1970 to 24.2 percent in 1990. 

By comparison, for 1987 members of the American Institute for Graphic Arts: 
Northeast, 42 percent; South, 17 percent; Midwest, 17 percent and West 
22 percent. And for members of the Industrial Designers Society of America: 
Northeast, 29.7 percent; South 16 percent; Midwest 31.9 percent and West, 22.4 
percent. 

Gender 

Data concerning gender is available from the Census of Population and reporting 
members of the American Institute of Graphic Arts. 

Between 1 970 and 1 990 female decorators and designers increased at an average 
rate of 106.4 percent per decade from 71,262 in 1970 to 333,032 in 1990. This 
compares with an average rate growth per decade of women among the experienced 
civilian labor force of 24.5 percent; among professional specialty workers, 41.1 
percent and among all artists, 86.9 percent. As a percentage of all decorators and 
designers, women increased from 38.3 percent in 1970 to 55.4 percent in 1990. 

Female decorators increased at an average rate of 100 percent per decade from 
30,717 in 1970 to 176,500 in 1990. As a percentage of all decorators, women 
increased from 58.5 percent in 1970 to 73.3 percent in 1990. 

Female designers also increased from 1970 to 1990, growing at an average rate 
of 1 16 percent per decade from 27,975 in 1970 to 156,500 in 1990. As a percentage 
of all designers women went from 25 percent in 1970 to 43.5 percent in 1990. 

By contrast, in 1987, 46 percent of reporting members of the American Institute 
for Graphic Arts were women. 

Education Requirements 

According to the Occupational Handbook (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1993), 
creativity is crucial for designers and decorators, together with a strong color sense, 
an eye for detail, balance and proportion and sensitivity to beauty. Sketching is 
especially important for fashion design. Some formal preparation in design is 
Important in all but floral design. 

Educational requirements for entry vary. Industrial design requires a Bachelor's 
degree, interior design a four-year Bachelor's in fine art. Interior designers must also 
be familiar with federal, state and local building codes, as well as toxicity and 
flammability standards. In fashion design some formal education, such as a two-to 
four-year degree is important, plus knowledge of textiles, fabrics, ornamentation and 
fashion trends. Floral designers usually 
need only a high school degree as most learn on the job. 

Formal training in some design disciplines is available from professional schools 
offering certificates or associate degrees. Four-year college and university programs 
grant a Bachelor of Fine Arts. The curriculum includes art and art history, principles 



Architecture and Design Arts Occupations, 1970 to 1990 I 133 



of design, designing and sketching. Also, specialized programs like garment 
construction, textiles, mechanical and architectural drawing, computerized design, 
sculpture, architecture, marketing and basic engineering. Persons with architectural 
training also qualify for some design occupations, especially interior design. 
Computer aided design is taught, especially in industrial design. 

In 1991, the National Association of Schools of Ait and Design accredited 166 
post-secondary institutions in art and design. Most award a degree in art, some in 
industrial, interior, textile, graphic or fashion design. Many allow entry into a 
Bachelor's program only after a year of basic art and design courses. 

The Foundation for Interior Design Education Research accredits interior design 
programs and schools. There are 89 accredited programs in the U.S. and Canada 
located in schools of art, architecture and home economics. Some colleges and 
universities offer degrees in floriculture and floristry and provide training in flower 
marketing and shop management. Floral design is also taught in private schools. 

Interior design is the only design discipline subject to government regulation. 
The District of Columbia licenses and 14 states regulate use of the title. Membership 
in a professional association is a mark of achievement, usually requiring completion 
of three or four years of post-secondary education in the field, at least two years of 
practical experience and completion of the National Council for Interior Design 
Qualification Examination. 

Educational Attainment 

Data concerning the educational attainment of decorators and designers is 
available from the Census of Population (for combined decorators and designers), 
from the Department of Education and from the American Institute of Graphic Arts. 

Decorators and designers with only elementary education declined from 10,823 
in 1970 to 9,745 in 1990. Compared to all decorators and designers, they decreased 
from 5.8 percent in 1970 to 1.6 percent in 1990 (Exhibit 12). 

Those decorators and designers with one to three years of high school increased 
at an average rate of 23.8 percent each decade from 22,869 in 1970 to 33,823 in 
1990. Compared to all decorators and designers, however, they decreased from 12.3 
percent in 1970 to 5.6 percent in 1990. 

Those with four years of high school increased at an average rate of 29.8 percent 
per decade from 62,743 in 1970 to 111,573 in 1990. They decreased, however, 
compared to all in the field from }?>.7 percent in 1970 to 18.6 in 1990. 

Decorators and designers with one to three years of college or university 
increased at an average rate of 120.5 percent each decade from 49,375 in 1970 to 
230,409 in 1990. Compared to all in the field they increased from 2d. 6 percent in 
1970 to 38.4 percent in 1990. 

Those with four or more years of college or universit) education increased at an 
average rate of 1 17.2 percent each decade from 40,144 in 1970 to 21 S,24() in 1990. 
Compared to all decorators and designers they increased from 21.6 percent in 1970 
to 35.8 percent in 1990. 



1 34 i Artists in the \\ ork Force 



Exhibit 12 

Percentage Distribution of Census Combined Decorators & 

Designers by Education. 1970 & 1990 




z" ■-: 



: :-l 



- - 



Degrees and Enrollment 

Department of Education data shows that 5,054 college or university degrees 
were awarded in 1988-89 in design at the Bachelor level (93.3 percent) and Master's 
level (6.7 percent). 

In 198^ there were 174 graduate design programs offered by American colleges 
and universities of which 35.1 percent were in graphic design, 13.2 percent in 
industrial design, 28.8 percent in interior design and 23 percent in textile design. At 
both the Bachelor and Master level, percentages of students enrolled and graduated 
were highest in graphic design. Interior design, industrial design and 
communications design were the other three areas largest in enrollment and degrees 
awarded. 

By contrast with 1990 Census figures, of reporting members of the American 
Institute for Graphic Arts, 13 percent had roughly three years of college or university 
compared to 38.4 percent for all decorators and designers. And 8~ percent had four 
years or more of college or university' education compared to 35.8 percent for all 
decorators and designers. 



Architecture and Design Arts Occupations, 1970 to 1990 I 135 



Employment 

Data concerning the employment of decorators and designers is available from 
the Census of Population, the Census of Service Industries and from representative 
associations. 

Decorators and designers employed in the private sector increased at an average 
rate of 69.9 percent each decade from 144,554 in 1970 to 416,352 in 1990. As a 
percent of all decorators and designers, they decreased from 80.4 percent in 1970 to 
72.1 percent in 1990. 

Those employed in the public sector increased at an average rate of 68.4 percent 
each decade from 5,105 in 1970 to 15,046 in 1990. Compared to all in the field, 
they declined from 2.8 percent in 1970 to 2.6 percent in 1990. 

Self-employed decorators and designers increased at an average rate of 1 1 5. 1 each 
decade from 28,586 in 1970 to 142,178 in 1990. As a percent of the field, they 
increased from 15.9 percent in 1970 to 24.6 percent in 1990. 

The unemployment rate for combined decorators and designers was 3.3 percent 
in 1970 and 3.9 percent in 1990. This compares with the experienced civilian labor 
force rate of unemployment of 4.1 percent in 1970 and 5.5 percent in 1990. For 
professional speciality workers the corresponding rates were 1.8 percent in 1970 and 
2.1 percent in 1990. For all artists the corresponding rates were 4.5 percent in 1970 
and 4.8 percent in 1990. 

Data for full- and part-time decorators and designers are from the 1980 and 
1990 Census. Drawing upon work by Ellis and Beresford (1994), full-time 
decorators and designers increased compared to all decorators and designers from 
53.8 percent in 1980 to 54.4 percent in 1990. Accordingly, nearly half of all 
decorators and designers worked only part-time. Female decorators and designers 
accounted for 45.5 percent of full-time workers in 1990, but 72 percent of part-time. 

By Industry 

Exhibit 13 presents the distribution of Census combined decorators and 
designers by major industries in 1990. Over 80 percent were employed in retail trade 
(29.4 percent), business and repair industries (26.4 percent) and manufacturing 
industries (24.9 percent). Other professional services industries employed 7.7 
percent. There were 2.6 percent in wholesale trade; 2.1 percent in transportation, 
communications and public utilities; 1.5 percent in construction, entertainment and 
recreation; 1.3 percent in educational services and less than 1 percent in finance, 
insurance, real estate, public administration, agricultural industries, personal services 
industries and health services. Decorators and designers represented 0.5 percent of 
total employment in industries reporting these occupations. 

In 1987 the broad Census category called Construction, Finance and Service 
industries accounted for 61,130 employed decorators and designers, including 
48,040 designers (excluding interior designers) and 15,090 interior designers. In 
total, they represented 0.5 percent of total employment in industries reporting these 



1 36 I Artists in the Work Force 



Exhibit 13 

Percentage Distribution of Census Combined Decorators & 

Designers by Major Industries. 1990. 



50 



100 



150 



000's 



I I 

Total Decorators & Designers 531,000 
I Agriculture 3,000 or 0.6% 

Construction 8,000 or 1 .5% 




Manufacturing 
132,000 or 24.9% 



Retail Trade 
156,000 or 29.4% 



Business & Repair Services 
140,000 or 26.4% 



Personal Services excl. Private Households 1 ,000 or 0.2% 
Entertainment & Rec. Services 8,000 or 1 .5% 



Health Services excl. Hospitals 1,000 or 0.1% 
I Educational Services 7,0000 or 1 .3% 

Other Professional Services 41 ,000 or 7.7% 



Public Administration ;4,000 or 0.8% 



occupations. Of these 65.6 percent worked in business services industries; 29.3 
percent in miscellaneous service industries; 4.1 percent in construction; 2.1 percent 
in amusement and recreation services; 1.6 percent in motion pictures and 
0.6 percent in museums, botanical and zoological parks. 

In the broad category called Non-Manufacturing Industries in 1988 there were 
244,020 decorators and designers made up of 140,770 designers (excluding interior 
designers), 43,580 interior designers and 59,670 merchandise displayers and window 
trimmers representing 0.5 percent of total employment in industries reporting these 
occupations. Of these 43.9 percent were in retail trade; 11.7 percent in wholesale 
trade; 3.4 percent in electric, gas and sanitary services and 0.2 percent in 
communications. 

In the broad category called Manufacturing Industries in 1989 there were 
39,890 made up of designers (excluding interior designers), representing 0.5 percent 
of total employment of the industries reporting these occupations. Of these 15.2 
percent were in apparel and other textile products; 12.7 percent in printing and 
publishing; 12.1 percent in transportation equipment; 10.8 percent in industrial 
machinery and equipment; 10.3 percent in miscellaneous industries and fewer than 
10 percent in all other reporting industries. 



Architecture and Design Arts Occupations, 1970 to 1990 I 137 



Establishments 



The Census of Service Industries offers insight into the establishments providing 
graphic arts services. Two types of businesses provide these services: commercial art 
and graphic design firms and graphic design firms. For purposes of this analysis, no 
further reference will be made to commercial art and graphic design firms. 

In 1987 there were 7,202 graphic design establishments with receipts of $3.2 
billion. The Northeast accounted for 30 percent of establishments and 34.3 percent 
of receipts; the South for 23 percent of establishments and 17.5 percent of receipts' 
the Midwest for 22.3 percent of establishments and 25.5 percent of receipts and the 
West for 24.6 percent of establishments and 22.7 percent of receipts. 

With respect to type of practice, billings and employees, the Industrial Design 
Society of America reported that in 1989 of responding groups 56.6 percent were 
consulting groups accounting for 52.3 percent of design employees; 39.6 percent 
were corporate design groups accounting for 45.6 percent of design employees and 
3.8 percent were other types of groups accounting for 2.2 percent of design 
employees (Exhibit 14). 



Exhibit 14 

Percentage Distribution of Industrial Design Society of 

America Groups by Practice, Billings & Desgin Employees 

1989 



Other 

9 or 3.8% 

(41 Employees) 



Consulting Groups 

33 or 56.6% 
(985 Employees) 



225 Reporting 

Groups 
(1.885 Employees) 




Corporate Groups 

93 or 39.6% 
(859 Employees) 



Practice 



More $1,000,000 

67 or 28.5% 
(1,175 Employees) 



225 Reporting 

Groups 
(1.885 Employees) 



$500,000-$999,999 

54 or 23.0% 

(351 Employees) 




$0-$249.000 

114 or 32.0% 

(114 Employees) 



Billings 



$250,000-5499,999 

60 or 25.5% 
(245 Employees) 



Groups reporting billings up to $249,999 a year accounted for 23 percent of all 
reporting groups and 6.1 percent of design employees; groups with billings between 
$250,000 and $499,999 accounted for 25.5 percent of groups and 13 percent of 
employees; groups with billings between $500,000 to $999,999 accounted for 23.0 



1 38 I Artists in the Work Force 



percent of groups and 18.6 percent of employees; Groups with billings of more than 
$1 million accounted for 28.5 percent of all groups and 62.3 percent of design 
employees. 

The American Institute of Graphic Art reported that in 1987 free-lancers were 7 
percent of its members; 21 percent were self-employed; 28 percent were owners or 
partners of firms; 44 percent were employees and 1 percent were unemployed. 

In 1987 of reporting AIGA members 46 percent were employed in a design 
firm; 28 percent in a non-design firm; 13 percent in educational institutions; 8 
percent in a publishing house; 5 percent in non-profit institutions; 2 percent in 
governmental institutions and 2 percent in other types of organizations. 

Income 

Data concerning the income of decorators and designers is available from the 
Census of Population for 1980 and 1990 and from the two representative associations. 

In 1990 decorators and designers working full-time and earning $7,500 or less 
accounted for 5.4 percent of all decorators and designers; those earning $7,500 to 
$14,999 in the year before the Census, 14.4 percent; between $15,000 and $24,999, 
25 percent; between $25,000 and $34,999, 22.3percent; between $35,000 and 
$49,999, 19.4 percent; between $50,000 and $69,999, 8.6 percent; between 
$70,000 and $99,999, 3.1 percent and those earning more than $100,000, 1.9 
percent. (Exhibit 15) 

The median income for full-time earnings of male decorators and designers was 
$32,549 and for females, $20,394, or 62.7 percent of what their male counterparts 
earned. 

Decorators and designers living in households with an annual income under 
$15,000 in 1989 accounted for 7.8 percent of all decorators and designers; those 
earning between $15,000 and $24,999, 1 1.2 percent; between $25,000 to $34,999, 
14.8 percent; between $35,000 and $49,999, 21.7 percent, between $50,000 and 
$64,999, 17.1 percent; between $65,000 and 94,999, 16.2 percent; between $95,000 
and $124,999, 5.6 percent and those earning more than $125,000, 5.5 percent. 

The median income for male decorators and designers was $47,688 and for 
females, $44,308. Median income for females was 92.9 percent of males. The median 
household income with a working decorator or designer, either a male or female, was 
$45,873. 

Median household income of all decorators and designers was 1 13 percent of the 
experienced civilian labor force; 88.2 percent of professional specialty workers and 
103 percent of all artists. 

Conclusion 

A summary of findings concerning architecture and design occupations between 
1970 and 1990 appears in the Executive Summary at the beginning of this NEA 
report on artists and will not be repeated here. Rather, this section will briefly treat 



Architecture and Design Arts Occupations, 1970 to 1990 I 139 



Exhibit 15 

Percentage Distribution of Census Combined Decorators & 

Designers by Full-time Earnings in Year before Census 

1980 & 1990 



$100,000 or more 
2,193 or 1.1% 




$7,500-$14,999 
32,193 or 16.0% 



$25,000-34,999 
48.302 or 26.3% 



1980 



$15,000-24,999 
"50,736 or 25.2% 



$100,000 or more 
6,780 or 1.9% 



Under $7,500 
19,413 or 5.4% 



$7,5000-14,999 
52,035 or 14.4% 




$15,000-24,999 
90,522 or 25.0% 



$25,000-34,999 
80.595 or 22.3% 



1990 



four aspects of professionalization and competition which affect the employment and 
earnings in architecture and design professions. 

Professionalization and Competition 



Since the Industrial Revolution, the engineer has been at the vanguard of 
integrating scientific knowledge into the physical structures, instruments and utensils 
of daily life. With the ascendancy of science, the engineer has displaced the architect 
as the "master builder." It is rumored that fewer than 10 percent of all construction 
projects in the U.S. engage architects, with the remaining 90 percent reputedly in the 
hands of engineers. To some developers architects are too concerned with aesthetics 
and not enough with function, cost and efficiency. 

If architects are considered "soft" compared to engineers, then designers are 
considered "soft" by architects. Thus while all states and the District of Columbia 
require formal licensing of architects, only the District licenses and only 14 states 
regulate use of the term "interior designer." Tension between the two professions was 
evident in 1990 with passage of the LaValle-Koppell Bill in New York. The bill 



140 I Artists in the Work Force 



resulted from an agreement between the architectural profession and interior 
designers on the scope of designers' work. In essence the bill: established a legal 
definition of interior design; established a category of "certified interior designers" 
and set minimum standards for education, training and testing; distinguished 
interior decorators from interior designers and defined the type of interior 
construction designers can perform as "not materially related to or materially 
affecting the building systems." 

Competition and growing demand for interior design has resulted in many 
architecture firms forming interior design departments. 

Design Deficit 

With respect to architecture, the U.S. is doing well on world markets. In 1989 
there were 200 "design" firms competing for international contracts worth $7.4 
billion. Design firms are those that develop plans for construction projects, as 
opposed to construction companies. Without differentiating between engineering 
and architectural firms, the U.S. accounted for 67 (33.5 percent) of competing firms 
and $3.2 billion (43.5 percent) of international design work. 

With respect to design of consumer products, the situation is quite different, 
with European imports traditionally dominating the top end of the line in the U.S. 
Consider the trade balance. In 1982 total U.S. exports were $252 billion, or 0.8 
percent of GNP. Arts-related exports were $12 billion, or 5 percent of total exports. 
In 1982 imports amounted to $306 billion, or almost 10 percent of GNP. Arts 
imports were $37 billion, or 12 percent of all imports. Thus the U.S. had a trade 
deficit with the rest of the world of $55 billion, or 1.7 percent of GNP. The arts trade 
deficit was $25 billion, or 45 percent of the total trade deficit. 

Growth in the number of decorators and designers during the 1980s suggests 
that an effort is being made to fill this trade gap. Good design adds value to products 
and makes them more competitive in the domestic and export market. 

Design Rights 

It has been estimated that the U.S. lost more than $13.5 billion to copyright 
pirates around the world in 1986 (Hoffman 1989). Unfortunately, there is no 
estimate of loss due to design piracy. 

While European countries and Japan have long provided design protection, the 
U.S. offers a design patent that requires not just that a design be different and 
distinctive, but that it be new, useful and not "obvious" to others skilled in the trade. 

Product designers consider their work as creative and original as that of painters, 
sculptors and writers who enjoy copyright protection. Designers, however, too often 
must watch their work being copied by others with little fear of being sued under 
existing law (Andrews 1990). To the degree product design protection increases the 
value of design, then to that degree the employment and earnings of designers will 
increase and their status in corporate hierarchies would rise. 



Architecture and Design Arts Occupations, 1970 to 1990 I 141 



Aesthetic Utopians 

Frank Lloyd Wright, like members of the German Expressionist Movement, the 
Bauhaus and the "International Style," believed that architecture and design could 
change the human condition. 

"It was one of those illusions of the 20s," recalls Philip Johnson. "We were 
thoroughly of the opinion that if you had good architecture the lives of people would 
be improved... and people (would) improve architecture... This did not prove to be the 
case." (Hughes 1981:164) 

For more than a half century, the International Style of rectangular glass boxes 
dominated construction in downtown America. Aesthetic Utopians wanted buildings 
and objects to approach an aesthetic ideal of perfection while developers and 
manufacturers wanted to produce at the lowest possible price, thus fueling the 
dominance of the style. But in the 1980s architects and designers began to reject this 
mainstream of modern architecture and design. Not just the formal harmonies and 
proportions of Gropius, Mies van der Rohe and Le Courbusier were rejected, but also 
their social and ethical ideals. Functionalism, however, was not rejected. 

This stylistic rejection became known as "Postmodernism." It is characterized by 
an eclecticism of styles and reversion to pre-modern architecture before the 
International Style 

Without a dominant style, the public is confused while the architecture and 
design professions search for a new guiding light. A new style fuels the employment 
and earnings of architects and designers. Perhaps Wrights dream of a distinctive 
American style will result from this contemporary Postmodern confusion. 

Forecasts 

Employment opportunities for architects, landscape architects and designers are 
projected to rise faster than the average for the labor force as a whole through the year 
2005. Most job openings, however, will result from people transferring to other fields 
or leaving the profession. 

Demand for architects and landscape architects depends on local construction 
which, in turn, is sensitive to the economic cycle. Furthermore, architects must meet 
licensing requirements in each state before they can practice there, which limits 
mobility. As well, competition for the most prestigious firms will continue. 

Computer-aided design and drafting is becoming more prevalent, but is not 
expected to reduce demand tor architects. Rather, it should allow more options to be 
developed and changes in plans made more easily, hopefully improving the quality of 
design. 

1 andscape architects will no doubt find construction growing in the long term, 
but mainly outside the major cities. Ivpicallv such sites have large surroundings 
requiring more landscape designing than urban sites. And as the COS1 ot land 
increases, good landscape design will become more desirable. 

Increased development ot recreation spaces, wildlife refuges and parks will also 

require landscape architects, as will growing concern about the environment and 



142 I Artists in the Work Force 



historical preservation. Also, local, city and regional planning is requiring increased 
mixed land reclamation and refurbishing of existing sites. 

Designers should also continue to be in demand. Continued competition and 
emphasis on product quality and safety, on design of new business and office 
products, on high-tech products in medicine and transportation will also stimulate 
demand for industrial designers. 



To the professional statisticians of the Federal government, the staff of 
representative organizations and the Research Division of the NEA, whose long term 
efforts provided the evidence presented in this report, many thanks and 
encouragement are offered. In a society in which "If you're not counted, you don't 
count!" their on-going efforts aid and assist materially in making the case for the arts 
before the court of public opinion. 

About the Author 

Harry Hillman Chartrand received his M.A. in Economics (1974) from Carleton 
University in Ottawa prior to operating his own consultancy, FUTURES. Clients 
included the Canadian Federation of Mayors and Municipalities, Tri-Level Task 
Force on Public Finance, Bureau of Intellectual Properties and Secretary of State, 
Canada Council. From 1981 to 1989, he served as Research Director for the Canada 
Council. From 1989 to 1994, Mr. Chartrand served as Chief Economist of Kultural 
Econometrics International. In July he returned to private practice in Saskatoon and 
now serves as Administrator for the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance. He has written 
extensively concerning cultural economics. 

Selected References 

Australia Council for the Arts (1991). The Arts: Some Australian Data, 4th Edition, Sydney. 
Bielby, William T. and Denise D. Bielby (1987). Pay Equity and Employment Opportunities 

Among Writers for Television and Feature Films. Los Angeles: Writers Guild of 

America, west (WGA, w), June. 

1989 Hollywood Writers' Report: Unequal Access, Unequal Pay. WGA,w, April. 

(1993). The 1993 Hollywood Writers' Report: A Survey of the Employment of Writers 

in the Film, Broadcast, and Cable Industries for the Period 1987-1991. WGA,w, June. 
Blau, J.R., Architects and Firms: A Sociological Perspective on Architectural Practice. 

Cambridge: MIT Press, 1984. 
Bradshaw, Tom, "Predicting Artist Employment in the Year 2000," in Cultural Economics 

88: An American Perspective, Shaw, D.V., W.S. Hendon, V.L. Owens (eds), Association 

for Cultural Economics (ACE), University of Akron, 1989. 
(1984) "An Examination of the Comparability of the 1970 and 1980 Census Statistics 

on Artists." In William S. Hendon, et al (eds.). The Economics of Cultural Decisions. 

Akron: ACE. 
Brighton, A. and N. Pearson. The Economic Situation of the Visual Artist. London: Calouste 

Gulbenkian Foundation, 1982. 
Brown, P.L., "A Legal Leg for Designers," New York Times, Aug. 2, 1990, Cl & 6. 



Architecture and Design Arts Occupations, 1970 to 1990 I 143 



Bureau of the Census, Classified Index of Industries and Occupations: 1980 Census of 

Population, PHC 80 R4, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Washington, D.C. Nov. 1982. 
Bureau of Labor Statistics. Handbook of Labor Statistics. Washington, D.C, August 1989. 

Occupational Handbook 1992-93, Bulletin 2400, Washington, D.C, 1993. 

Canada Council (1984). A Canadian Dictionary & Selected Statistical Profile of Arts 

Employment, 1981. Ottawa, Research and Evaluation. 
Cantor, Muriel C, Employment Status of Performing Artists, 1970 to 1980. Washington, 

D.C: NEA, Research Division, 1987. 
Center for Education Statistics, Degrees and Other Formal Awards Conferred Survey, U.S. 

Dept. of Education, Washington, D.C, annual. 
Citro, Constance F., and Deirdre A. Gaquin (1987). Artists in the Workforce, 1950 to 1985. 

Washington: NEA Research Division. 
Clark, K., Civilization, BBC & John Murray, London, 1969. 
Data User Services Division, U.S. Bureau of the Census. Census of Population and Housing, 

1990: Public Use-Microdata Samples U.S. Technical Documentation. Washington, 

D.C: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1983 and 1992. 
Diamonstein, B., Fashion: The Inside Story, New York: Rizzoli, 1985. 
Economic Report of the President. Washington, D.C: U.S. Govt. Printing Office, 1991. 
Ellis, Diane C and John C Beresford. Trends in Artist Occupations: 1970-1990. 

Washington, D.C: NEA Research Division, 1994. 
Filer, Randall K., "Arts and Academe: The Effects of Education on Earnings of Artists," 

Journal of Cultural Economics, Vol. 14, No. 2, Dec. 1990, 15-40. 
(1989). "The Economic Condition of Artists in America." In Douglas V. Shaw, et al, 

(eds.), Cultural Economics 88: An American Perspective. Akron, ACE. 
(1986). "The 'Starving Artist' — Myth or Reality? Earnings of Artists in the United 



States." Journal of Political Economy, 94, 56-75. 
Gaquin, Deirdre. Special Tabulation of 1990 Census. Washington, D.C. 1994. 
Hale, R.D., "An Economic Analysis of the Architectural Profession," Journal of Cultural 

Economics, Vol. 4, No. 2, Dec. 1980, 27-38. 
Hanson, A.F., "History of Art — Part Four: The Modern World — 5." Twentieth Century 

Architecture, 3rd. Edition. New York: Abrams 1986, 746-767. 
Harris, N. The Artist in American Society. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1970. 
Heikkinen, Merja (1989a). Tilannekuva Kirjailijoista (The Social and Economic Position of 

Finnish Writers). Helsinki: The Arts Council of Finland. 
(1989b). "A Situational Portrait of Writers: A Study of the Position of Authors in 

Finland (English Summary)," Helsinki: The Arts Council of Finland. 
Horowitz, H., "The Status of the Artist in the U.S.A.," Journal of Cultural Economics, Vol. 

17, No. l,June 1993,29-48. 
Hughes, R., Shock of the New, Chapter 4: "Trouble in Utopia." New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 

1981. 
Jeffri, Joan. "The Artist in an Integrated Society." In Public Money and the Muse. Stephen 

Benedict, ed. New York: Norton, 1991. 
, J. Hosie and R. Greenblatt. "The Artist Alone: Work-Related and Social Service 

Needs-Selected Findings." Journal of Arts Management and Law 17 (Fall 1987), 5-22. 
Jeffri, Joan, ed. (1989). Information on Artists: Cape Cod. New York: Columbia 

University/Research Center for Arts and Culture. 
Jeffri, J. and D. Throsby. "Professionalism and the Visual Artist." European Journal of 

Cultural Policy, 1.1, 1994. 
Keens Company (1994). Literature Field Overview Study. Prepared for the NEA, February. 



144 I Artists in the Work Force 



Kingston, Paul, and Jonathan R. Cole (1986). The Wages of Writing: Per Word, Per Piece, 

or Perhaps. New York: Columbia University Press. 
Knox, P.L. (ed.) The Design Professions and the Built Environment. New York: Nichols 

Publishing, 1981. 
Lorenz, C, The Design Dimension: Product Strategy and the Challenge of Global 

Marketing. New York and Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1986. 
Meggs, P., A History of Graphic Design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1983. 
Moore, K., E. Jacob, T. Bradshaw, et al, "Design Arts" in The Arts in America, NEA, 

Washington D.C., 1988, 205-244. 
Moulin, Raymonde. L'Artiste, l'institution, et le marche. Paris: Flammarion, 1992. 
Research Division, A Source Book of Arts Statistics, Bi-annual, NEA, Washington, D.C. 
Rowe, P.G., Design Thinking. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1984. 
Ruttenberg, Friedman, Kilgallon & Associates, Inc. Working and Not Working in the 

Performing Arts: A Survey of Employment, Underemployment and Unemployment 

Among Performing Artists in 1980. Washington, D.C: Labor Institute for Human 

Enrichment, Inc., AFL-CIO, 1981. 
Ruttenberg, Friedman, Kilgallon, Gutchess & Associates, Inc., Survey of Employment, 

Underemployment, and Unemployment in the Performing Arts. Washington, D.C: 

Human Resources Development Institute, AFL-CIO, 1978. 
Santos, F.P. (1976). "Risk, Uncertainty and the Performing Artist." in Mark Blaug (ed.) The 

Economics of the Arts. Boulder: Westview Press. 
Schuyler, D., The New Urban Landscape, Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1987. 
Statistics Canada (1993). The Nation: Employment and Income by Occupation. Ottawa, 

March and April. 
Stinson, John F. Jr., "Multiple jobholding up sharply in the 1980s." Monthly Labor Review. 

Washington, D.C: U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. July 1990:3-10. 
Throsby, D. and D. Mills. When Are You Going to Get a Real Job? Sydney: Australia 

Council, 1989. 
Towse, Ruth. "The Economic and Social Characteristics of Artists in Wales." Dept. of 

Economics, University of Exeter, undated mimeo. 
U.S. Bureau of the Census. Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1992 (112th Edition). 

Washington, D.C: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1992. 
Waits, C. Richard and Edward M. McNertney (1989). "The Incomes of Cultural Providers: 

A Review of Current Research." In Douglas V. Shaw, et al (eds.), Cultural Economics 

88: An American Perspective. Akron: ACE. 
Wassail, Gregory H. and Neil O. Alper (1984). "Determinants of Artists' Earnings." In 

William S. Hendon, et al, The Economics of Cultural Industries. Akron: ACE. 
(1985). "Occupational Characteristics of Artists: A Statistical Analysis." Journal of 

Cultural Economics 9, 13-34. 

1990). "When Is an Artist an Artist?" Journal of Arts Management and Law. 19, 37-50. 

(1992a). "Earnings of American Artists: 1960-1980." 7th International Conference on 

Cultural Economics, Fort Worth, October. 
(1992b). "Toward a Unified Theory of the Determinants of the Earnings of Artists." in 



R. Towse and A. Khakee (eds.) Cultural Economics. Berlin: Springer- Verlag. 

_and Rebecca Davison (1983). Art Work: Artists in the New England Labor Market. 



Cambridge: New England Foundation for the Arts. 
Whitney, P. (ed.) Design in the Information Environment, Carbondale and Edwardsville: 
Southern Illinois University Press, 1985. 



*» 




national 
endowment 
for the arts 

Seven Locks Press 
Santa Ana, California 



i 

i 
i 
i 



ISBN D-TE^bS-Mfl- 
51395 



9 780929V65488 



n 

f