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Recent statistics on cultural employment

The European Union (EU) recognizes and promotes the importance of culture, not only for its contribution to identity and well-being but also for its potential for economic growth, job creation, and international trade. Trends in cultural employment – all jobs in the cultural sector as well as cultural jobs outside of the cultural sector – shed light on the importance of culture in the EU. A recent article in the online publication Culture Statistics presents updated data on cultural employment from 2022, collected by the European Union Labour Force Survey. Let’s break it down.

One of the main findings of the survey reveals that cultural employment accounted for 3.8% of total employment in the EU, reflecting an estimated annual growth of 4.5%, despite the negative effect that the Covid-19 pandemic had on cultural employment in 2020. While the distribution of cultural employment varied across EU member states, Western and Northern EU countries held the highest share. The most dramatic increases in growth occurred in the design, photography, translation, publishing, and audio-visual production sectors. Conversely, the content reproduction and mass distribution sectors experienced downward trends. 

Cultural employment in the EU has several demographic differences from general employment trends. For instance, in 2022, cultural employment consisted of higher proportions of women, as well as individuals in the age groups 15-29, 30-39, and 65 and over. That said, the gender gap in cultural employment reached an all-time low, with 3.9 million men and 3.8 million women working in the sector. In terms of educational attainment, cultural employment had a higher proportion of workers with a college-level education (60.6%) compared to workers in other industries (37.1%). Additionally, cultural employment was characterized by a relatively high proportion of self-employed workers (31.7%) compared to the economy as a whole (13.8%).

Another interesting conclusion of the European Union Labour Force Survey is that artists and writers constituted 22% of all cultural employment in the EU. Nearly half were self-employed, and their full-time employment rate was slightly lower than that of the overall economy. The nature of their work often led to less job security and variation in income over time. This finding backs Culture Action Europe’s calls for the EU to advocate for the rights of workers in the cultural employment sector.

Read more about the topic in this article (in Italian).


Photo by Jeff Vinluan