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Artists in America: Painting by numbers

Useful for urban revivals, too

IN A recession the arts may seem a luxury. But they have proved a valuable way to rejuvenate industrial districts and boost communities that once relied on manufacturing. Studies show that in a labour market that prizes well-educated workers, the best way to lure them is often by attracting creative people first.Yet there is little reliable information about where artists live and how they are contributing to the national economy. Many still envision them as loners toiling in their garrets, perhaps with a nasty cough. In fact artists (broadly defined to take in all the creative industries) are well integrated into the workforce, and more than half work in the private sector. Though they make up only 1.4% (2.1m) of America’s total labour market, they are highly entrepreneurial and twice as likely to have college degrees. All this comes from a new report by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), using data from the annual American Community Survey and the quarterly census of employment and wages.Few will be surprised to learn that artists are…

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