A lot of novelists couldn’t live on their book royalties, but according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce, the class of writers and authors as a whole earns more money than the average American.
That’s one intriguing finding from a study by the National Endowment for the Arts of data in the American Community Survey (2005-2009). The study found 197,768 people who identified writing as the occupation in which they worked the most hours in any given week. People who write for a living made up almost 10% of the nation’s 2.1 million artist workforce. Their median income was $44,792, compared to $39,280 for the general population of workers. The NEA suggests this may be due to the higher than average education level among writers – 84% had at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 32% of the overall workforce.
One especially gratifying finding: Among writers and authors, women earned nearly the same amount as men. Women also outnumbered men: about 57% of writers were female, compared to 47% of the overall workforce.
Where do writers work? About 44% were self-employed, compared to 10% of the total workforce. The highest concentration, 32.8%, was in the “performing arts, spectator sports, and independent artists” category; 17% earned their living by providing professional services; and 20.4% worked in information industries such as films, video, broadcasting, newspapers, books, or directories. About 9% worked for the government, the highest percentage of any group of people in the arts.
Where do writers live? New York and California had the highest number, but writers were also numerous in Oregon and Vermont. However, the state that has the most book publishing jobs is Minnesota, and the concentration of book publishing employment in Minneapolis is eight times the national average. New York comes in second, followed by Massachusetts and New Jersey.
Some other intriguing findings: only 13% of writers and authors were nonwhite or Hispanic, compared to 32% of the general workforce, and only 7% were foreign-born, compared to 15% of all workers.
Do any of these figures surprise you?