Are we having fun yet? Who works in the Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation industry.

Written by Danny Bachman, Ph.D.

Published on April 04, 2016

In an economy of growing wealth, certain industries stand out as ripe for growth. Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation is one of these. And it’s an industry that looks pretty appealing to work in. Athletes! Rock stars! Movie directors! These are all occupations that help define this industry—and who can resist an industry where workers get to choose the colors of their jelly beans?
Now, not everybody who works in the industry is a rock star—or an athlete. But a surprising share of employees in the industry do, in fact, have something to do with athletics. The tree map for occupations in Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation (below) shows that a few categories related to athletics (recreation and fitness workers, Lifeguards, and athletes, coaches and related workers) make up about 15% of workers in the industry. But that’s about it. Most of the other workers are generic service industry workers. Cashiers, cooks, ground maintenance workers, janitors and so on have to live on reflected glamor. Actors, writers, producers, dancers make up at most about 2% of the industry’s employees.
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So it’s not so surprising that wages in Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation are about the same as in Retail. What’s a bit more surprising is that wages skew very low—and there are fewer high-earning “superstars” in Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation than in the economy as a whole.
The relatively large number of very low income workers may reflect the line from a famous pop song goes, “all the stars that never were are parking cars and pumping gas.”1 Or it may reflect the part-time nature of many of these jobs.
It’s not surprising that glamor and money and fame, don’t really characterize jobs in the Arts, Entertainment and Recreation industry. You probably didn’t really think that they did. Even if you—like all of us—dreamed of someday being a star.
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  1. "Do you know the way to San Jose" sung by Dionne Warwick, music by Hal David, lyrics by Burt Bacharach, 1968.
Danny Bachman, Ph.D.

Danny Bachman is in charge of U.S. economic forecasting for Deloitte’s Eminence and Strategy functions. He is an experienced U.S. and international macroeconomic forecaster and modeler. Dr. Bachman came to Deloitte from IHS economics, where he was in charge of IHS’s Center for Forecasting and Modeling. Prior to that, he worked as a forecaster and economic analyst at the US Commerce Department, was responsible for U.S. economic forecasting and modeling at WEFA (previously Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates) and taught international economics at Temple University. His first professional job was at Israel’s Ministry of Finance.

Dr. Bachman is a native of Philadelphia. He has a B.A. from Johns Hopkins and Ph.D. from Brown University. Dr. Bachman lives in Rockville, Maryland with his wife, but without his two millennial children, who—evidently defying the odds—have not returned home after college. Yet.