College Art Association

CAA News Today

Unemployment rates are up among working artists and the artist workforce has contracted, according to new research from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Artists in a Year of Recession: Impact on Jobs in 2008 examines how the economic slowdown has affected the nation’s working artists. The study looks at artist employment patterns during two spikes in the current recession—the fourth quarters of 2007 and 2008. Not unexpectedly, this downturn reflects larger economic declines across the nation: a Commerce Department report from late February noted a 6.2 percent decrease in the gross domestic product in the last quarter of 2008. The ten-page publication can be downloaded as a PDF.

Among the findings:

  • Artists are unemployed at twice the rate of professional workers, a category in which artists are grouped because of their high levels of education. The artist unemployment rate grew to 6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared with 3 percent for all professionals. A total of 129,000 artists were unemployed in the fourth quarter of 2008, an increase of 50,000 (63 percent) from one year earlier. The unemployment rate for artists is comparable to that for the overall workforce (6.1 percent)
  • Unemployment rates for artists have risen more rapidly than for US workers as a whole. The unemployment rate for artists climbed 2.4 percentage points between the fourth quarters of 2007 and 2008, compared to a one-point increase for professional workers as a whole, and a 1.9 point increase for the overall workforce
  • Artist unemployment rates would be even higher if not for the large number of artists leaving the workforce. The US labor force grew by 800,000 people from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of 2008. In contrast, the artist workforce shrank by 74,000 workers. Some of this decline may be attributed to artists’ discouragement over job prospects
  • Unemployment rose for most types of artist occupations. Artist jobs with higher unemployment rates are performing artists (8.4 percent), fine artists, art directors, and animators (7.1 percent), writers and authors (6.6 percent), and photographers (6.0 percent)
  • The job market for artists is unlikely to improve until long after the US economy starts to recover. Unemployment is generally a lagging economic indicator, or a measure of how an economy has performed in the past few months. During the prior recession (2001), artist unemployment did not reach its peak of 6.1 percent until 2003—two years after economic recovery began nationwide.

As an example of how arts jobs intersect with the larger economy, consider the construction industry. Industry-wide declines, which began in 2006, have contributed to the shrinking job market for architects. While this group usually has the lowest unemployment rates among all artist occupations and all professionals, architect unemployment rates doubled, from 1.8 percent in fourth quarter 2007, to 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. Unemployment in the designer category also doubled, from 2.3 percent to 4.7 percent. This broad category includes interior, commercial, and industrial designers whose work is closely associated with the construction industry. Eighty-three thousand designers left the artist labor market during that time period.

The contraction of the arts workforce has implications for the overall economy. A May 2008 NEA study revealed there are two million full-time artists representing 1.4 percent of the US labor force, only slightly smaller than the number of active-duty and reserve personnel in the military (2.2 million). More recently, a National Governors Association report recognized that the arts directly benefit states and communities through job creation, tax revenues, attracting investments, invigorating local economies, and enhancing quality of life. There are 100,000 nonprofit arts organizations that support 5.7 million jobs and return nearly $30 billion in government revenue every year, according to a study by Americans for the Arts.

The NEA Office of Research and Analysis produced Artists in a Year of Recession: Impact on Jobs in 2008 using published and unpublished data from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The research note measures unemployment rates among workers who self-reported an artist job as occupying their greatest number of working hours per week, whether the employment was full-time or part-time.

Unemployment rates are up among working artists and the artist workforce has contracted, according to new research from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Artists in a Year of Recession: Impact on Jobs in 2008 examines how the economic slowdown has affected the nation’s working artists. The study looks at artist employment patterns during two spikes in the current recession—the fourth quarters of 2007 and 2008. Not unexpectedly, this downturn reflects larger economic declines across the nation: a Commerce Department report from late February noted a 6.2 percent decrease in the gross domestic product in the last quarter of 2008. The ten-page publication can be downloaded as a PDF.

Among the findings:

  • Artists are unemployed at twice the rate of professional workers, a category in which artists are grouped because of their high levels of education. The artist unemployment rate grew to 6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared with 3 percent for all professionals. A total of 129,000 artists were unemployed in the fourth quarter of 2008, an increase of 50,000 (63 percent) from one year earlier. The unemployment rate for artists is comparable to that for the overall workforce (6.1 percent)
  • Unemployment rates for artists have risen more rapidly than for US workers as a whole. The unemployment rate for artists climbed 2.4 percentage points between the fourth quarters of 2007 and 2008, compared to a one-point increase for professional workers as a whole, and a 1.9 point increase for the overall workforce
  • Artist unemployment rates would be even higher if not for the large number of artists leaving the workforce. The US labor force grew by 800,000 people from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of 2008. In contrast, the artist workforce shrank by 74,000 workers. Some of this decline may be attributed to artists’ discouragement over job prospects
  • Unemployment rose for most types of artist occupations. Artist jobs with higher unemployment rates are performing artists (8.4 percent), fine artists, art directors, and animators (7.1 percent), writers and authors (6.6 percent), and photographers (6.0 percent)
  • The job market for artists is unlikely to improve until long after the US economy starts to recover. Unemployment is generally a lagging economic indicator, or a measure of how an economy has performed in the past few months. During the prior recession (2001), artist unemployment did not reach its peak of 6.1 percent until 2003—two years after economic recovery began nationwide.

As an example of how arts jobs intersect with the larger economy, consider the construction industry. Industry-wide declines, which began in 2006, have contributed to the shrinking job market for architects. While this group usually has the lowest unemployment rates among all artist occupations and all professionals, architect unemployment rates doubled, from 1.8 percent in fourth quarter 2007, to 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. Unemployment in the designer category also doubled, from 2.3 percent to 4.7 percent. This broad category includes interior, commercial, and industrial designers whose work is closely associated with the construction industry. Eighty-three thousand designers left the artist labor market during that time period.

The contraction of the arts workforce has implications for the overall economy. A May 2008 NEA study revealed there are two million full-time artists representing 1.4 percent of the US labor force, only slightly smaller than the number of active-duty and reserve personnel in the military (2.2 million). More recently, a National Governors Association report recognized that the arts directly benefit states and communities through job creation, tax revenues, attracting investments, invigorating local economies, and enhancing quality of life. There are 100,000 nonprofit arts organizations that support 5.7 million jobs and return nearly $30 billion in government revenue every year, according to a study by Americans for the Arts.

The NEA Office of Research and Analysis produced Artists in a Year of Recession: Impact on Jobs in 2008 using published and unpublished data from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The research note measures unemployment rates among workers who self-reported an artist job as occupying their greatest number of working hours per week, whether the employment was full-time or part-time.

Career Services Guide Published

posted by December 18, 2008

The Career Services Guide is designed to inform job seekers and employers about career services that are available at the 2009 Annual Conference in Los Angeles. Examine this guide carefully so that you will know what to expect from conference interviewing and how best to prepare for a successful experience.

The Career Services Guide will also be published in the January 2009 issue of CAA News as a colored-paper insert; copies will also be available at Orientation and in the Candidate’s Center at the conference.

All Career Services will take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, California. For more information about job searching, visit the Career Services section of the conference website.

Salary Data on Art-History Majors

posted by December 12, 2008

From the Art History Newsletter:

In the Wall Street Journal, we read that according to “a year-long survey of 1.2 million people with only a bachelor’s degree by PayScale Inc.,” art-history majors have a median starting salary of $35,800. Ten years after graduation, their median salary is $64,900. In that respect, they beat majors in anthropology, biology, criminal justice, drama, education, English, forestry, graphic design, health care administration, hospitality, interior design, music, nutrition, psychology, religion, sociology, and Spanish. That said, philosophy majors are earning a median $81,200 ten years out.

Filed under: Education, Surveys, Workforce

CAA Member Survey Results

posted by October 15, 2008

CAA warmly thanks the 831 participants in a recent email survey, which was sent to 8,300 members whose database records indicate that their primary profession is: art/architectural historian, artist, administrator, curator, art-museum educator, or librarian. The results of the survey will be presented at the Board of Directors’ Strategic Planning Retreat on October 25, 2008, and will be incorporated into discussions on how to better serve all CAA members in the new strategic plan.

The survey contained one open-ended question: “What are the most pressing issues you face in your profession?” The following summary provides a synopsis of your responses, which are recorded in order of priority and frequency; many respondents gave multiple answers.

Art/Architectural Historians – 455 respondents
33% – Decrease in positions; increase in PhDs; reduction of tenured positions and increase in part-time and adjunct positions
17% – Difficulty finding publishers; insufficient number of art journals; decrease in presses publishing art history; tenure requirement for monographs vs. few presses publishing monographs
16% – Limited research funds and high cost of travel
13% – Work load vs. keeping up with the field and quality of life
11% – High cost of image reproduction; copyright restrictions
7% – Low salaries and need for pay equity
7% – Issues regarding resources and attention devoted to historical art vs. contemporary art; Western vs. non-Western art; national vs. global; traditional curriculum, research, and pedagogy vs. interdisciplinary curriculum, research, and pedagogy
7% – New technology demands: cost, training, accessibility
5% – Need for American public understanding of art and combating anti-intellectualism
4% – Viability, credibility, and relevance of art history to other disciplines

Artists – 305 respondents
40% – Earning enough to support creative work; finding jobs and job security
23% – Finding reliable galleries; support for exhibitions; support for creative work and research
19% – Need for exposure of work, networking, and negotiating the art world
17% – Low salaries and need for pay equity
13% – Reduction of tenured positions and increase in part-time and adjunct positions
5% – Maintaining art as a critical discipline on all levels of education
5% – Need for health insurance
5% – Heavy teaching load and higher expectations for productivity
5% – Need for greater preparation of entering students

Administrators – 47 respondents
45% – Decrease in federal, state, and private funding for research, travel, faculty, staff, and technology
10% – Decrease in scholarships and fellowships
10% – Reduction of full-time faculty and increase in part-time faculty
10% – Recruitment of qualified candidates for faculty positions given the expansion of disciplines and need for pedagogical expertise
7% – Decreased enrollment
6% – Need for pay equity between art historians and artists
5% – Work load vs. keeping up with the field
4% – Blurring of disciplines and need for curriculum revision; new forms of assessment

Curators – 14 respondents
44% – Financial stability of art museums; decrease in funds for research and scholarly exhibitions
19% – High stress, long hours, and diminished staff positions
15% – Devaluation of research
10% – How to communicate with the public
10% – Low salaries and need for pay equity
5% – Demands of exhibition funders

Art-Museum Educations – 6 respondents
25% – High stress, long hours, and diminished staff positions
10% – Maintaining links between museum educators and art historians
10% – Low salaries and need for pay equity
5% – Decrease in funds for public programs

Art Librarians – 4 respondents
30% – New technology equipment costs, training, and research
25% – Decreased funds for purchase of books and periodicals
10% – Recruitment of qualified candidates for staff positions

Because many respondents gave more than one answer, the percentages do not always add up to 100 percent.

Filed under: CAA News, Membership, Surveys, Workforce

“Higher education—especially public higher education—would face major disruptions within five or six years if it doesn’t come up with some way to change the way adjuncts are treated.” So writes Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed, summarizing the words of A. G. Monaco, a senior human-resources official at the University of Akron, speaking at the annual meeting of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. In his article “Call to Arms for Adjuncts . . . From an Administrator,” Jaschik reports that Monaco offered an outline of steps that colleges should take to bridge the gap between the way tenure-track professors and their adjunct and part-time colleagues are treated. If not, colleges and universities could face increasing unionization, for better or worse, from what Monaco calls “a highly educated working poor.”

Filed under: Education, Workforce