WASHINGTON (AP) — Creative industries led by Hollywood account for about $504 billion, or at least 3.2 percent of U.S. goods and services, the government said in its first official measure of how the arts and culture affect the economy.
On Thursday, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts will release the first-ever estimates of the creative sector's contributions to U.S. gross domestic product based on 2011 data, the most recent figures available. GDP measures the nation's production of goods and services.
Sunil Iyengar, the endowment's research director, said the yardstick devised in partnership with the Bureau of Economic Analysis drew on figures from Hollywood, the advertising industry, cable TV production, broadcasting, publishing, performing arts and other areas. Now the nation's creative sector will be measured annually, much as statisticians calculate the contribution of tourism, health care and other sectors to the nation's economy.
"One of the challenges that's always been there for economists and even lay people and certainly policy makers is to understand what is the arts' value," Ilyengar said. "Here's a measurable, legitimate, rigorous way of tracking the contributions of the creative economy in the country."
Analysts said they used preliminary numbers from 2011 and dating back to 1998, including both for-profit and nonprofit industries in the arts and culture sector.
By comparison, the arts and culture sector outpaced the U.S. travel and tourism industry, which was 2.8 percent of GDP in 2011, based on the federal estimate. That finding surprised even the researchers.
"Art and culture is a significant part of the U.S. economy — not just its contributions of ideas and creativity to the innovation economy but also as an important part of the labor force and our country's GDP," NEA Senior Deputy Chairman Joan Shigekawa said in a statement.
Hollywood movies and video services, the advertising industry and cable TV production were leading contributors to GDP in the creative sector, the researchers found, followed by broadcasting, publishing and the performing arts. On their own, the movie and video industries contributed $47 billion in value-added to the economy in 2011.