The country's dire economic situation is hitting artists hard.
According to new research released Wednesday by the National Endowment for the Arts, working artists are unemployed at a higher rate than other workers, and at a rate that is rising more rapidly than other professions. Presumably as a result, more artists are leaving their profession.
The study, "Artists in a Year of Recession: Impact on Jobs in 2008," looks at artist employment patterns during two spikes in the current recession -- the fourth quarters of 2007 and 2008.
The NEA said that artists are unemployed at twice the rate of professional workers, a category in which artists are grouped because of their high levels of education. The artist unemployment rate grew to 6% in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared with 3% for all professionals. A total of 129,000 artists were unemployed in the fourth quarter of 2008, an increase of 50,000 (63%) from one year earlier.