Surprising Industry for Growth: The Arts

The Arts Though job creation amid the current economic recovery appears anemic, long-term government forecasts call for the U.S. labor force to grow by 10 percent, or about 15 million people by 2018.

A significant chunk of those jobs are expected to be created in so-called "professional and related occupations" and "service occupations," according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of registered nurses, for example, is expected to climb by 582,000, while the number of customer service representatives is projected to increase by 400,000.

More surprising, perhaps, is the growth forecast for another group of professionals -- artists and others in arts-related fields. The BLS expects that jobs in the arts will grow by 11 percent, roughly on par with growth projected for the U.S. labor force overall, according to a recently published research note by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Demand is expected to be strongest for those involved in museum operations. Museum technicians and conservators are projected to increase by 26 percent, followed by curators (23 percent), landscape architects (20 percent) and interior designers (19 percent).

The report doesn't specify why the growth rate among curators and museum technicians and conservators -- a relatively small category made up of highly educated professionals -- is expected to be so high," according to a report on Rather, the NEA cites "continued public interest in arts, science and history."

Work for architects, actors, writers and authors is also projected to increase at faster than the average rate, the NEA report notes. The increased need for architects, it says, is being driven in part by increased demand for health care facilities, greener buildings and the continued western migration of the American population.

Occupations seen as experiencing little or no growth are radio and television announcers, fashion designers and floral designers.

The BLS data doesn't take into account the swings in the nation's business cycle, such as recessions or expansions, but instead looks at long-term structural changes. The forecasts, for example, factor out the effects that the financial crisis has taken on the labor force.

"The impact of the recent recession, which began in December of 2007, on long-term structural changes in the economy will not be fully known until some point during or after the recovery," according to the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook.

"Because the 2008 starting point is a recession year, the projected growth to an assumed full-employment economy in 2018 will generally be stronger than if the starting point were not a recession year," the publication notes.

Still, the projections point to a brighter employment picture for those involved in creative fields. Another recent report, from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, noted that artists and those in related professions typically hold jobs that require higher education or advanced training.

A previous NEA report showed that 55 percent of the nation's artists had a bachelor's degree or higher -- nearly twice the rate of U.S. workers overall, giving artists an advantage in securing employment in the coming years.

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