NEA releases research figures on artist unemployment

Posted on: March 13, 2009

In Friday’s (3/13) Christian Science Monitor, Matthew Shaer reports, “Last week, the National Endowment for the Arts released research showing that artists are now unemployed at about twice the rate of other professional workers. Approximately 129,000 artists were out of work nationwide in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the report—up 63 percent from the same period in 2007. The NEA estimated that the figures might have been worse had thousands of artists not left the workforce due to retirement, a desire to pursue outside opportunities, or general discouragement. And the forecast for the next few years is no brighter. Sunin Iyengar, the director of research and analysis at the NEA, said unemployment was a ‘lagging economic indicator,’ and that the figures can still rise even months or years after a general economic recovery. … In interviews this week with the Monitor, artists expressed dismay at the situation and worried that the government was not doing enough to halt the economic slide. Jonathan Kemp, a musician living in Brooklyn, calls the unemployment figures ‘a serious problem.’ In a way, he says he is ‘embracing’ his own joblessness, and intends to focus even more intently on his music.”
Posted March 13, 2009