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Broad categories of workers in the arts, culture, and heritage
Thoughts on the methods and limitations of the Labour Force Survey
Thanks to reader feedback, today’s post is strictly about methods, specifically the broader categorizations that sometimes help us make culture-relevant sense of national statistics, particularly the Labour Force Survey (LFS).
This is a companion post to my recent analyses of the median wages of certain categories of cultural workers, based on the Labour Force Survey. The posts cover occupation groups that Statistics Canada has classified as “professional”, “technical”, and, well, “no descriptor given”.
Next week, I will examine the wages of women and men in these three categories of cultural workers. In two weeks, if the data seem useful, I plan to examine trends over time in these categories of cultural workers.
Statistics Canada’s new, tiered approach to classifying occupation groups is based on typical levels of training, education, experience, and responsibility (“TEER”) for each category. The TEER categories, as applied to some cultural occupation groups, are my focus today. On Thursday, I will dig into the underlying occupation groups.
The readily available categories (professional, etc.) only cover cultural workers who are classified into what Statistics Canada calls Occupations in art, culture, recreation and sport. This broad grouping does not cover all of the occupations that arts researchers would consider cultural. I touch on some differences below, and Thursday’s post will have more on this topic.
Hopefully these companion pieces will enhance everyone’s understanding of the categories and occupation groups used in the Labour Force Survey and census.
In this post, I highlight two main considerations regarding the summary data from the Labour Force Survey: 1) the categorization into professional, technical, and unnamed groups; and 2) differing definitions of which occupations might be considered cultural.
Useful but imperfect categorizations
In my view, the TEER categories, used in some datasets from the Labour Force Survey, are useful but imperfect.
It is fantastic that there are readily available categories which are almost exclusively cultural – something that is relatively rare in broad based datasets.
The coverage is decent as well. Combined, the three categories represent well over half of all workers in the arts, culture, and heritage (roughly 60% of occupations included in a broader — and better — definition of cultural work, which I will explain on Thursday.)
Another positive note is that statistics for the relatively large categories are more reliable than those for individual occupation groups. The Labour Force Survey doesn’t have a large enough sample size to delve into the details for individual occupation groups. (In large part, that’s why the census is very useful.)
The terms “professional” and “technical” can have different meanings in an arts-world context and, for some, do not represent an accepted categorization.
Personally, I would have grouped all 10 artist occupation groups, rather than having some in the “professional” category and others in the third, unnamed category.
The “technical” classification includes some technical occupations in culture, but others are in the third category (e.g., technical workers in museums and galleries).
From my initial analysis of the three categories, it seems that formal education appears to play the strongest role in StatsCan’s classifications. For example, based on my calculations using data the 2016 census:
The 4 artist occupation groups where over one-half of people have at least a bachelor’s degree are categorized as “professionals”: writers, conductors / composers, musicians, and producers / directors / choreographers.
5 artist occupation groups where less than one-half of workers have at least a bachelor’s degree are placed in the third (unnamed) category: visual artists, actors / comedians / circus performers, dancers, photographers, and craftspeople.
The artist occupation group with the lowest proportion of people with at least a bachelor’s degree (other performers) is classified into a fifth category (not available in the LFS dataset).
How many cultural workers are included in the LFS categories?
Here are my calculations regarding the number of workers in each of the readily available categories, based on data that I have downloaded from the 2021 census. Be aware that these census counts include both employees and the self-employed, whereas the wage data from the Labour Force Survey only represent employees’ wages.
TEER 1 (professional): about 175,000 cultural workers (whether employed or self-employed)
TEER 2 (technical): roughly 215,000 cultural workers
TEER 3: about 125,000 cultural workers, plus roughly 25,000 sports workers
Some examples of cultural occupation groups that are not classified into Statistics Canada’s grouping of Occupations in art, culture, recreation and sport — and therefore not in the readily available LFS categories — are architects, web designers, landscapers, library clerks, as well as many occupations related to printing and publishing.
Arts, culture, and heritage managers represent an unusual example, because they:
have culture-specific occupation groups (e.g., “library, archive, museum, and art gallery managers” as well as “managers — publishing, motion pictures, broadcasting, and performing arts”)
and they are classified within the grouping of Occupations in art, culture, recreation, and sport
but they are excluded from the LFS dataset, because these managers are combined with other “middle managers” into a category of management positions (“specialized middle management occupations”) that contains many more workers outside than inside the arts and culture.
For cultural executives and senior managers, the occupational codings combine them with executives and senior managers in other areas, resulting in really broad occupation groups that are not particularly useful for an analysis of workers in the arts, culture, and heritage.
More notes about exclusions are at the end of this post, and I’ll have even more on that on Thursday.
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Details about each TEER of cultural workers
This section provides a summary of the cultural occupation groups included in all TEER categories, not just the occupation groups included in the three readily available categories from the LFS (i.e., that are classified into classified into “Occupations in art, culture, recreation, and sport”). In other words, this information includes all occupation groups within a broader and better definition of cultural occupations, one that contains 52 occupation groups.
If you’re looking at the 5-digit occupation code for an occupation group (and I know that this must be at the top of your agenda right now), the trick to understanding the TEERs is to look at the second digit of the occupation group’s code.
0 denotes TEER 0, or management occupation groups. Only 2 of 52 occupation groups in the arts, culture, and heritage are considered management occupation groups: “managers — publishing, motion pictures, broadcasting, and performing arts” (code 50011) and “library, archive, museum, and art gallery managers” (50010).
1 = TEER 1 (professional). An artist example is “authors and writers (except technical)” (51111). 16 of the 52 cultural occupation groups, including 4 of the 10 artist occupation groups, are classified into this category.
2 = TEER 2 (technical), such as “film and video camera operators” (52110). 16 of the 52 cultural occupation groups are classified into this category (but none of the artist occupation groups).
3 = TEER 3. An artist example is “photographers” (53110). 10 of the 52 cultural occupation groups, including 5 of the artist occupation groups, are classified into this category.
4 = TEER 4 (generally: high school education), such as “library assistants and clerks” (14300). Just 7 of the 52 cultural occupation groups are classified into this category.
5 = TEER 5 (generally: less than high school education). The only cultural example is an artist occupation: “other performers” (55109). Examples of other performers include buskers, DJs, puppeteers, face painters, exotic dancers, and models.
How many cultural workers are included in each TEER?
Here are my counts of the total number of cultural workers that would be included in each TEER, not just those that are included in the three readily available LFS groupings.
Some cultural workers are excluded from all of these categories because of the nature of the standard occupation groupings. See my notes on that below (and more on Thursday).
Once again, these calculations are based on data that I downloaded from the 2021 census, and they include both employees and the self-employed (whereas the wage data from the Labour Force Survey only include employees).
TEER 0 (management): under 15,000 cultural workers (both employed and self-employed)
TEER 1 (professional): almost 400,000 cultural workers
TEER 2 (technical): over 300,000 cultural workers
TEER 3: almost 150,000 cultural workers
TEER 4: about 50,000 cultural workers
TEER 5: only 5,000 cultural workers
Exclusions: Arts and culture workers who are not captured in these categories
The readily available data from the Labour Force Survey do not offer statistics for some occupation groups in the arts, culture, and heritage — typically because these occupation groups are combined with non-cultural occupation groups.
As noted above, one example is managers in libraries, archives, museums, art galleries, performing arts, publishing, motion pictures, and broadcasting. These cultural managers are combined with “specialized middle management occupations” in other areas, resulting in a category with many more non-cultural than cultural workers.
Some cultural workers are excluded from culture-specific counts due to the lack of fine-grained information in standard occupation categories. Examples of arts and culture workers who are grouped into other, non-culture-specific occupation groups are:
People who teach in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions. The arts and culture occupation groups exclude, for example, visual artists who teach at the post-secondary level (who happen to be some of the highest paid visual artists). Note that people who teach independently or in private studios are included in arts and culture occupations.
Government employees with a cultural portfolio at any level of government. Government workers are not separated based on their portfolios.
Directors and other senior managers in the arts and culture, including cultural associations. As is the case for government workers, directors and senior managers are not separated based on the nature of their work or association.
Arts consultants and researchers.
My post on Thursday will contain more thoughts along these lines.
Similarly, I have created a tab for my posts about artists.
Details about 52 relatively culture-specific occupation groups, along with their 5-digit codes, will be provided in a post on Thursday.
In June, I plan to publish a series of posts analyzing 2021 census data related to workers in these 52 occupation groups.