Census Paints Picture of America's Artists

2M work in the arts, outnumbering doctors and lawyers
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2008 9:03 AM CDT
Dancers were the lowest paid of the country's artists, with a median wage of $20,000.   (KRT Photos)
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(Newser) – America has an army of artists that rivals the military in size, the New York Times reports. The National Endowment of the Arts has used census figures to paint a portrait of the almost 2 million Americans making their living from artistic professions—more, the Times notes, than the number who ID themselves as lawyers, doctors, or police officers. The combined painters, photographers, dancers, writers, and others play a huge role in the economy but often struggle with underemployment and below-average incomes.

Their combined income was about $70 billion—a median of $34,800 each. Almost a quarter of the county's artists live in California and New York but they are spreading beyond the traditional urban centers and artist colonies, helped by the rise of information technology. They are becoming more diverse as well, with the proportion of women and minority groups among artists rising, especially among the under-35s.