Creative Input: The Role of Culture Occupations in the Economy during the 1990s
IssueCultural employment and training
Short summary available at http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/080410/d080410c.htm
Using data from the 1991, 1996 and 2001 censuses, this Statistics Canada report notes that the growth in the number of culture workers was 38% between 1991 and 2001, a figure that is almost three times higher than the overall 13% growth in the total workforce. However, it should be noted that the report examines a somewhat unusual selection of 21 cultural occupation codes, not the 45 or 48 occupations examined in many other cultural-sector reports (or the nine occupations commonly examined in arts occupation reports). The growth rates differ for other definitions of the cultural workforce, but all have shown relatively high growth rates.
The key goal of the report is to examine cultural occupations in non-cultural sectors of the economy. These workers are individuals whose creative work is typically an input into the final product in the non-cultural sector. That is, these individuals have primary occupations that are cultural but occur within other sectors of the economy. (Note that these data do not include secondary employment of culture workers.)
The report finds that 40% of culture workers are employed in non-cultural sectors, especially four sectors: manufacturing, business services, educational services and retail trade. Visual arts and design occupations represent over half of all culture workers in non-cultural sectors. Cultural work in non-cultural sectors is much more common in large cities than in smaller cities and rural areas.
The report finds that the proportion of culture workers in the non-cultural economy remained relatively stable during the 1990s (0.7% of all workers in non-cultural sectors in 1991 and 0.8% in 2001). The report also indicates that, within the cultural sector of the economy, the 21 cultural occupations represent 20% of all workers.
Between 1991 and 2001, there were two particularly significant growth sectors for creative workers: the manufacturing sector and the business services sector. There was a 55% increase in the number of culture workers in the manufacturing sector and a 91% increase in the business services sector between 1991 and 2001. However, the number of culture workers decreased in 10 of 16 non-cultural sectors.
Overall, these findings suggest that only some sectors of the economy perceive a growing need for cultural and creative inputs. In other words, the much-heralded “creative class” is not ubiquitous. As the report concludes, “the immense changes occurring in the Canadian economy during the 1990s do not seem to have unleashed widespread growth in the importance of culture labour inputs for productive processes across the non-culture sector of the economy”.