Jobs and compensation for those in cultural activities here have grown smartly.

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This week, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis released a report on the contribution of arts and culture to the economy. It covers 2014, the most recent year for which in-depth data are available. With that caveat (and more to come), Washington turned in the largest increase in employment in this sector at 5.7 percent and compensation at 11.5 percent. Employment totaled more than 154,000.

Nationwide, arts and cultural employment grew 1.3 percent, adjusted for inflation. The real economic value from the sector increased 1.9 percent, down from 2.4 percent in 2013. Arts and culture jobs totaled 4.80 million in 2014, about 3.3 percent of all jobs in the United States.

It’s the first time the agency has sliced the data down to the state level. Elsewhere in the Northwest, Alaska’s employment in arts and culture fell 2.9 percent to 11,825; Idaho’s grew 2.3 percent to 22.235, and Oregon’s increased 1.9 percent to 64,712.

Here’s the second caveat: the BLS sweeps in a lot of different sub-sectors, including not only performing arts and museums, but also arts support services, book publishing, graphic design, advertising, government arts programs and some areas of information services. Given the latter, it’s no wonder Washington did well with the Puget Sound region’s information-technology cluster. Still, for example, Washington had a respectable 2,629 jobs in performing-arts organizations.

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The numbers would look very different if the Trump administration and many congressional Republicans get their way and defund the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities and public broadcasting.

Maybe the biggest warning that should accompany this report is the danger of tracking arts and culture like widgets. Our society asks too much of economics (whether real or fake) when it demands dead-stop answers to questions and issues that are more complex than numbers and models. The arts contribute so much more to enriching states and the nation than can ever be conveyed by this or any other economic report.

That said, it’s a valuable contribution. You can download it here.


Today’s Econ Haiku:

The mayoral race

Assumes Seattle’s standing

Golden goose to pluck