Nearly half a million people in the UK now earn enough of a living as artists, musicians or writers to cite it as their main occupation. No doubt, many more work at these occupations in their spare time as well.
The ONS has now made more consistent the NOMIS data on activity by occupation and corrected for a category change about eight years ago which made historic data difficult to compare with the latest data. And it is now possible to look back over the 15 years from 2004-19 and see which occupations have boomed and which ones have declined.
Some of the changes have been driven by technological change, like the 445,000 (72%) rise in ‘information technology and telecommunications professionals’ or the 82,000 (70%) decline in the number of typists.
But an interesting theme is the growth of lifestyle jobs. As recently as 2004 there were only 11,000 vets attending to the health of Britain’s 22 million pets (half of whom are cats!). By 2019 this had mushroomed to 27,000.
There has also been a growth in the caring occupations. Part of this has reflected growing funding for the NHS and part demographics with an aging population requiring more care.An additional 531,000 have become health professionals (though the number includes the vets), a rise of 54%.
The number earning a living from sports is also on a sharp upward curve with a rise of 88,000 (97%) in the number working in ‘sports and fitness occupations’. Even my own profession has shown remarkable growth. The number claiming to be ‘actuaries, economists and statisticians’ has risen by 130.6% to 56,500. Two years ago Cebr showed that London was the world centre of economic consultancy with over £1.5 billion in revenues, more than the entire cinema box office takings in the UK.
But one of the more unlikely changes is in the numbers working in the creative pursuits. The number who earn a living as an artist is now 61,000, up 122% over the past 15 years. The number working as musicians is 54,000, up 81%. The number working as writers is 91,000, up 64% though the total does include translators. The total earning a living in ‘artistic, literary and media occupations’ is now 454,000.
It’s hard to believe that post Covid 19 the creative economy will be smaller. The growth in what I named The Flat White Economy is continuing, giving a new boost to the creative economy by enabling its digital reach to grow. And meanwhile trends against commuting will also work in favour of such jobs. So it is likely that the UK’s creative economy will be a growth sector. Although the ‘winner take all’ nature of the sector may mean that this growth coincides with considerable inequality of remuneration.
Douglas McWilliams: email@example.com +44 7710 083 652