Discover more from Statistical insights on the arts
Arts and culture workers in the pandemic
Occupation-based statistics from the Canadian Labour Force Survey
Yesterday, I posted about the situation of arts and culture workers in 2021, including lots of information about the strengths and limitations of data from the Labour Force Survey.
Today, let’s look at pandemic-induced changes in arts and culture employment and self-employment.
What are some of the impacts of the pandemic on arts and culture workers? Are there differences between employed and self-employed workers? In 2021, the overall labour force returned to pre-pandemic levels, with a high job vacancy rate. What’s the situation for arts and culture workers?
I’ll repeat a couple of important notes to keep in mind:
1. This is a very “big picture” view. The definition of arts and culture workers includes 50 occupation groups, including heritage occupations (e.g., librarians, museum workers, archivists), cultural occupations (e.g., designers, editors, architects), and artists (e.g., musicians, visual artists, writers, actors, dancers).
2. The LFS information is available only for the full group of 50 occupations, not for subsets or individual occupations. We cannot use this data request to understand pandemic differences between workers in the arts, heritage, and cultural industries.
For further details, you can always look back at yesterday’s post (if you’re a paid subscriber).
Here are the pandemic-related questions that I analyzed based on the LFS.
From an employment standpoint, the pandemic has been very tough on many workers, but not as hard on others. What are some of the impacts of the pandemic on arts and culture workers? Are there differences between employed and self-employed workers?
Hours worked provides one of the best indicators of pandemic-related changes, especially in a sector where self-employment is common. (Many self-employed people lose gigs – i.e., hours worked – when times are tough but may not technically lose their “job”.) As noted in yesterday’s post, 28% of arts and culture workers are self-employed.
Arts and culture workers saw a 7% decrease in total hours worked between 2019 and 2020, and their 22.2 million hours worked in 2020 represent the lowest level since 2014.
The decrease in hours worked was slightly less for arts and culture workers (-7%) than for all Canadian workers (-9%). In 2020, the hours worked by all Canadians was at its lowest level since 2010.
Self-employed arts and culture workers saw a particularly strong reduction in hours during the depths of the pandemic. The 27% decrease in 2020 left total hours worked by self-employed arts and culture workers (5.1 million) at the lowest level on record (i.e., since 1997).
Statistically, the pandemic has been difficult for all self-employed workers but even more challenging for self-employed arts and culture workers. The decrease in hours worked for all self-employed workers was 18% between 2019 and 2020, which is much less than the 27% drop for self-employed arts and culture workers.
The collective hours of all employed arts and culture workers increased slightly in 2020, despite the pandemic (+1%, reaching 17.1 million).
Between 2019 and 2020, the number of arts and culture workers decreased by less than 1% (0.6%). There was a 5% decrease in the number of self-employed arts and culture workers, compared with a 2% increase in the number of employed arts and culture workers.
In 2021, the overall labour force returned to pre-pandemic levels, with a high job vacancy rate. What’s the situation for arts and culture workers?
Arts and culture work rebounded strongly in 2021, with a 15% increase in hours worked from 2020. The 25.5 million hours worked in 2021 represent the highest level on record and 7% above the pre-pandemic high in 2019. (The first year of the commissioned data was 1997.)
The effects of the pandemic have lingered for self-employed arts and culture workers: the 5.9 million hours worked in 2021 were 14% below the level in 2019. That being said, 2021 was a better year than 2020, with a 17% increase in hours worked from the record low in 2020,
In 2021, there was a record high in the collective hours worked by employed arts and culture workers (19.6 million hours, a 14% increase from 2020% and a 16% increase from the pre-pandemic level).
The following table highlights some of the important pandemic-induced changes for arts and culture workers, including comparisons with other workers.
On Tuesday, I posted about the historically high job vacancy rate in the arts, culture, and entertainment. I’ll repeat one key fact: in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry grouping, the job vacancy rate was 6.8% in March 2022, double the rate before the pandemic (3.4% in the last quarter of 2019).
In the works…
Next week, I plan to have two more LFS-related posts: 1) longer term trends back to 1997; and 2) differences between women and men arts and culture workers.
Early next week, I’ll post a summary of the findings from a recent research-needs survey (not coincidentally, of arts and culture workers).