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It's a matter of degrees

Musicians getting paid!
Photo by Kevin Winter

I’ve been focused mainly on the professional end of the labor market in D.C. – and that’s what most people do when they think of Washington – they consider all the folks in the Brooks Brothers’ suits. What is the first job that comes to mind when you hear D.C.? The President. Right. And then, you may consider the Congress and then the Feds and all the other policy wonks who seem super smart and very well-educated (I covered that in an earlier piece). But what about the creative talent?

Do we ever consider how much creative people make when they’re working? And that’s the conundrum. When they’re working. Unfortunately, the biggest unemployment gap is with creative folks, who also (ironically) happen to among the best educated (65% of creative talent have bachelor’s degrees v. 32% of non-creative talent who don’t have college degrees). For example, in a recent National Endowment for the Arts article, there was a lot of information on what creative talent (on a national scale) are able to earn based on certain areas of specialization.

If you had to guess, which one of the following workers would you bet is more likely to be unemployed? An architect or a dancer? I guess we need more buildings than we do ballerinas, so you guessed right if you guessed architect. One more try…who is likely to be out of a job first – a writer, an actor, or a musician? If you guessed that ‘yours truly’ might be sitting home watching soaps, you guessed wrong – those are actors at a whopping 31 percent unemployment rate. When people talk about out-of-work actors, they know of what they speak…Musicians are also more likely to play a sour note when it comes to getting, and keeping, a job than writers. But don’t despair, musicians are also more likely than any other creative person to moonlight successfully – more than 84 percent of musicians have a side gig in addition to their 9 to 5. And that’s something to sing about!