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Lost Art: Measuring COVID-19’s Devastating Impact on America’s Creative Economy

The COVID-19 crisis hits hard at arts, culture, and the creative economy. This study estimates the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on the creative economy, which is comprised of industries such as film, advertising, and fashion as well as creative occupations such as musicians, artists, performers, and designers. We estimate losses in sales of goods and services, employment, and earnings for creative industries and creative occupations at the national, state, and metropolitan levels over the period of April 1 through July 31, 2020.

  • Based on our creative-industry analysis, we estimate losses of 2.7 million jobs and more than $150 billion in sales of goods and services for creative industries nationwide, representing nearly a third of all jobs in those industries and 9% of annual sales. The fine and performing arts industries will be hit hardest, suffering estimated losses of almost 1.4 million jobs and $42.5 billion in sales. These estimated losses represent 50% of all jobs in those industries and more than a quarter of all lost sales nationwide.
  • Based on our analysis of creative occupations, we estimate losses of more than 2.3 million jobs and $74 billion in average monthly earnings for the creative occupations. These losses represent 30% of all creative occupations and 15% of total average monthly wages. Again, creative occupations in the fine and performing arts—which include the visual arts, music, theater, and dance—will be disproportionally affected, representing roughly a third of wage employment losses.
  • While all regions, states, and metropolitan areas of the country will be seriously impacted, the effects of the COVID-19 crisis will hit some places harder than others. The South is estimated to suffer the most losses in employment for both the creative industries and creative occupations, followed by the West and the Northeast, respectively. The West and the Northeast will be hit hardest in terms of estimated losses of sales revenues for the creative industries.
  • Of the 50 states, California will be hit hardest in terms of absolute losses for creative industries and occupations, followed by New York and Texas. But these are all large states; when we look at the share of losses, the biggest losses occur in smaller states, including Alaska, Nevada, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Hawaii.
  • The 53 metropolitan areas with populations over 1 million are estimated to account for more than three-quarters (80%) of total estimated losses in sales and two-thirds (68%) of all estimated job losses in creative industries across the United States. New York and Los Angeles will suffer the worst absolute losses, but smaller metro areas such as Las Vegas, Nashville, Tenn., New Orleans, Orlando, Fla., Memphis, Tenn., Baltimore, Jacksonville, Fla., Tucson, Ariz., and Austin, Texas will suffer larger losses in percentage terms.

Read the full article on brookings.edu.

About the authors:

This article was co-written by Richard Florida and Michael Seman, and originally published by Brookings.

Richard Florida
Professor – University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and School of Cities Distinguished
Visiting Fellow – New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate
Author – The Rise of the Creative Class and The New Urban Crisis

Michael Seman

Michael Seman
Assistant professor of arts management – Colorado State University’s LEAP Institute for the Arts
Research associate – Colorado State University’s Regional Economic Development Institute

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