Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Jul 24th 2009 at 10:00am UTC

Chart of the Day

The U.S. economy has shed 7.2 million jobs since the onset of the recession. But the economic pain of unemployment has not been spread equally, according to a new analysis by my colleagues at the Martin Prosperity Institute.

The graph below, compiled by Ulrich Atz, tracks the unemployment rate for three broad groups or classes of employment – the working class, the service class, and the creative class from 1971 to May 2009.

The report finds that:

Unemployment for all three groups has spiked since the onset of the recession.  But the downturn has hit hardest on working class. . . The working class has been hard hit by every downturn since 1971. Working class unemployment spiked from 6.2 percent in 1973 to 14.5 percent in the 1975 downturn.  It spiked again from 7.7 percent in 1979 to 16.8 percent in 1983.  It reached 12.0 percent in 1992.

In contrast, the unemployment rate for the creative class has hardly ever reached the 4 percent mark.  Unemployment rates among the working and service class are typically about 3-4 and 2-3 times respectively the rate of those in the creative class.

A closer look at monthly data (available starting in 2000) reveals that unemployment rates among the working and service classes typically move together while creative class unemployment lags the other two by several months.

The full analysis is here.

6 Responses to “Chart of the Day”

  1. Melodie Says:

    Your count includes artists? Surprising.

  2. Brenda Walker Says:

    I wonder how many artists actually see themselves as being in the creative class when it comes to employment and how they actually pay their bills as opposed to the service class. Aren’t many artists underemployed, regardless of the economic cycle?

  3. Victoria Says:

    I’m surprised as well. Being a visual artist, work has been extremely scarce here in the Southern US and no possibilities for a real change. ( I hope I’m wrong, but then again, who knows?) My husband and I had been full-time artists for years and we were forced to take jobs in fields that are completely foreign to us-needless to say we are miserable. We had been planning to move to Spain in about 3 years. I know it’s not a panacea there. However; in spite of the recession things are moving at a faster pace over there. We’ll move to Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands, next summer. It has a wide variety of the indexes that Richard talks in his books so I’m prepared to venture in another territory…

  4. Deborah Says:

    The new book ART/WORK: Everything You Need to Know (And Do) As You Pursue Your Art Career, by Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber is based on interviews with 100 arts professionals about their experiences in the art world and their expectations of artists. In Melber’s list of “Seven Things Every Artist Should Know,” his number one point is:

    1. Every artist has a day job.
    Most artists cannot live off their art–even relatively successful artists in New York or L.A. So don’t feel like you’re doing something wrong if you can’t make ends meet without a day job. The key is to define yourself as an artist. What you do for rent is just that. It’s not who you are.

    Good advice, but unfortunately the reality for many people.

  5. Brian Says:

    Very interesting, but I’m confused about the 7.2 million job loss number. According to the payroll numbers we’ve lost almost 6.5 million. If we use the employment data from the CPS (“Household report”) then the number of people employed has shrunk from 146.294 million in Dec 2007 to 140.196 million in June, 2009, a decline of about 6.1 million. What am I missing?

  6. Christi Pemberton Says:

    Hi Victoria and Deborah:

    Your day job can very well be connected to your profession as an artist…especially with all the technology and means of communication we have. I am a former art curator, now own a business…and I can say that artists can survive doing what they love, but they need to look at other ways to promote and provide their artistic creativity. The new development now is to become an artist entrepreneur, which can help artists avoid the “starving artist” stereotype. In this economy, we can not depend on doing things the traditional way (getting a job in a traditional manner)…we have to be more entrepreneurial and be willing to use the internet and technology to get our audience. Here are a few links concerning the rise in artist entrepreneurs..those expanding their art works beyond the traditional methods of creation. The first link is to an excellent article on “art entrepreneurship”.

    Christi Pemberton