3. National patterns in culture worker employment

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This section explores how culture workers are distributed across the overall Canadian economy. We initially divided the economy into three sectors: the culture sector, the non-culture sector and the unallocated industries sector. Of particular interest is the use of culture labour inputs to produce goods and services in the non-culture sector.

A not unreasonable view would suggest that the majority of culture workers would be employed in culture industries.Yet, as Table 3 reveals, just under half of all culture workers are employed in the non-culture sector of the economy. Hence, demand for culture workers outside of the culture sector itself is very important for understanding patterns in culture worker employment. Table 4 presents the shares of culture workers relative to total employment for the culture sector, the non-culture sector and the unallocated industries sector of the economy. Culture workers represented over 0.7% of the total workforce in the non-culture sector during the 1990s.

Table 3
Distribution of culture workers

Table 4
Shares of culture workers out of total workers for each sector

A second finding is the significant growth in overall culture employment during the 1990s. As Table 3 reveals, at the national level, total employment in culture occupations rose from 188,735 to 259,675, an increase of 70,940 jobs. This is a growth rate of 37.6%, three times faster than the 13.0% growth in the size of the total workforce over the decade.8 Hence, culture occupations, and the creativity embodied in them, became more important in the overall economy during this decade.

Both tables also indicate that most of the growth in employment in culture occupations during the 1990s occurred in the culture sector itself. Culture employment in the culture sector increased by 41,690, much more than the increase of 16,150 in the non-culture sector; culture workers composed 15.29% of all workers in the culture sector in 1991 but 19.53% in 2001. The share of culture workers in the non-culture sector increased slightly from 0.73% to 0.77% during the 1990s, indicating that growth in culture jobs in this portion of the economy kept pace with growth in total employment. Therefore, over the course of the decade, the non-culture sector did not increase its reliance on culture labour inputs to any great extent. However, this still leaves open the question concerning whether specific Divisions within the non-culture sector increased their employment of culture workers.

Trends in Divisions

The non-culture sector of the economy contains a wide variety of industries. Hence, the way that culture workers are used by employers in the non-culture sector could vary significantly across the industry spectrum. To determine whether this is the case, the non-culture sector was broken into its component Divisions to examine culture employment at the next lower level of aggregation. Table 5 presents the non-culture sector of the economy at this more detailed level to better understand where culture employment is located and how culture employment patterns developed through the 1990s. Agriculture, Fishing and Trapping and Logging and Forestry were considered together because each employs only a very small number of culture workers.

The data indicate that culture workers in the non-culture sector are not distributed evenly across Divisions. Rather, Business Services, Educational Services, Manufacturing and Retail Trade are where the majority of culture workers in the non-culture sector are employed. In 1991, these four divisions accounted for 65.2% of total culture worker employment in the non-culture sector, a proportion that rose to 70.1% in 1996 and 73.7% in 2001. Hence, the analysis here focuses on these four Divisions.

Table 5
Culture worker employment and employment shares by non-culture Division

Manufacturing and Business Services

Increases in culture worker employment during the 1990s were particularly noteworthy in Manufacturing and Business Services. Manufacturing added about 6,790 culture jobs to an existing base of 12,240 culture workers during the decade, resulting in a clear and steady rise in the share of culture workers in this Division from 0.72% to 1.00% over the decade. This may not appear to be significant, yet the actual number of culture workers in Manufacturing increased by over 55%, a rate far greater than the increase in overall manufacturing employment (13%).

Appendix 2 breaks out the four main groups of culture occupations (literary arts, visual arts and design, performing arts and heritage occupations) for each Division. For Manufacturing, Appendix 2 indicates that visual arts and design occupations made up the vast majority of culture employment in this Division. Hence, it is not surprising that strong growth in this occupational group, from 10,455 workers in 1991 to 17,405 workers in 2001, was the source of the overall gain in culture employment observed over the decade. The large increase in visual arts and design jobs strongly suggests that the production of manufactured goods in Canada involved a greater degree of design and artistic work towards the end of the 1990s compared to earlier years. This pattern is consistent with the hypothesis that culture workers became more important for the production of goods and services in the economy during the 1990s.

Business Services is another Division which employs large numbers of culture workers. Like Manufacturing, the number of culture workers employed in the Division almost doubled during the 1990s, from 13,255 workers to 25,340 workers. However, total employment in Business Services also increased strongly, from 542,595 to 906,845. Hence, the share of culture workers in the Division increased from 2.44% in 1991 to just 2.70% in 2001, despite the dramatic rise in the number of culture workers employed in the Division.

Data presented in Appendix 2 reveal that the vast majority of culture workers in Business Services are in visual arts and design occupations. During the 1990s, the number of workers in this occupational group rose from 10,840 to 19,900. Therefore, as with Manufacturing, strong growth in employment in visual arts and design occupations was largely responsible for the overall rise in the share of culture workers in this Division. Also noteworthy is the tripling of employment of those employed in literary occupations, including authors, writers, editors and journalists, from 1,220 in 1991 to 3,960 workers in 2001. It is interesting that the increase in the share of culture workers in Business Services after 1996 coincided with the rise of information and communication technologies to prominence in the economy. This could have led to greater demand for visual arts and design workers within Business Services, for example in web design, along with greater demand for writers and editors as well.

Educational Services and Retail Trade

Education Services, another Division with a large number of culture workers, saw an increase in culture employment over the 1991-1996 period from 17,565 to 21,840, causing the share of culture workers to rise from 1.96% to 2.35%. However, during the latter half of the 1990s, culture employment grew less strongly, increasing by just 650 workers to 22,490. This resulted in a subsequent decline in the share to 2.26% since total employment growth in Educational Services was far larger. Nonetheless, the share at the end of the decade was still higher than at the beginning of the 1990s. The increase during the first half of the decade can largely be attributed to a sharp rise in the employment of performing arts workers (from 10,265 to 15,860). This increase is not intuitive and difficult to interpret and may be due to changes in the way in which workers were coded between the 1991 Census and the 1996 Census. Hence, we attach less importance to this increase than the patterns in culture employment observed for Manufacturing and Business Services.

The Retail Trade Division also employs significant numbers of culture workers, the vast majority of which are in visual arts and design occupations. This is intuitive since a number of visual arts and design workers, such as fashion designers, illustrators, crafts persons and artisans of various kinds could potentially be employed in a variety of retail outlets and stores. However, unlike Business Services and Manufacturing, the actual number of culture workers in Retail Trade decreased over the course of the 1990s, from 14,490 to 10,105. As can be seen in Table 5, this led to a sharp drop in the share. A potential explanation for the decline could be that design work in the Retail Trade was increasingly being outsourced during the 1990s. In any case, Retail Trade differs from Manufacturing, Educational Services and Business Services since it lost a large portion of its culture workforce.


Patterns in the employment of culture workers suggest that culture-based creativity, skills and knowledge are particularly relevant for Manufacturing, Business Services and Educational Services. In contrast, the culture employment shares for Retail Trade and also those for most other Divisions declined during the 1990s, as indicated in Table 5. Hence, the data suggest that a degree of caution is justified when assessing the importance of culture-based creativity for producing goods and services, at least for significant portions of the non-culture economy. In addition, it appears that the immense changes which occurred in the Canadian economy in the 1990s did not lead to a general increase in the use of culture-based creativity as inputs into productive processes. Rather, culture employment growth outside of culture industries was limited in scope.

It is important to note that these conclusions apply only to the direct employment of culture workers as labour inputs; that is, the case where a firm or public sector agency has culture workers on staff. Another possibility exists. As Tables 3 and 4 demonstrate, culture employment in the culture sector did increase dramatically during the 1990s. The growth of culture jobs in the culture sector in fact outstripped growth in total employment by a wide margin, leading to a rise in the share of culture workers by over four percentage points in just ten years. This could speak to a growing emphasis on direct creative production and a healthy vitality within the culture sector itself. However, it is also plausible that the non-culture sector of the economy increased its reliance on commodities produced in the culture sector during the 1990s. Put another way, demand and supply linkages between firms in both sectors could have strengthened during the decade. For example, rather than hiring graphic designers directly, an engineering or construction firm might contract with a graphics design firm (in NAICS 5414, a culture industry) to assist with marketing. Directly employing graphic designers would result in the engineering/construction firm using a culture labour input to produce non-culture products, and such workers would be coded as culture workers in a non-culture industry by the Census. But, if the engineering/construction firm were to outsource work to a graphic design firm, the employees in the design firm would still be culture workers in a culture industry, even though their firm produces output for the engineering/construction firm (amongst a potentially diverse array of clients).

Therefore, even if most Divisions in the non-culture economy did not use culture labour inputs extensively or increase their direct employment of culture workers, it is still possible that employers increasingly relied on culture labour inputs during the 1990s, albeit indirectly through outsourcing to the culture sector. This indirect method of employing culture labour inputs by the non-culture economy could be investigated further by an input-output analysis within a general economic equilibrium framework. This possibility was investigated. However, the commodity classification system is too coarse to identify effectively a concrete set of culture inputs that would be consistent with the Canadian Framework for Culture Statistics . Hence, investigation of whether the non-culture sector of the economy outsourced work to firms in the culture sector remains open as a possibility for future research work.