In 2021, 7.5% of total employment was in cultural employment, according to the Icelandic Labour Force Surve (IS-LFS). The ratio increased slightly from 2020 when it was 7.1%.

The proportional decrease in cultural employment was similar to other employment between 2019 and 2020, around 3%. However, between 2020 and 2021 the number of individuals in cultural employment increased proportionally much more than in other employment, by 9% compared with 3.1%, suggesting a faster recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic. In culture, however, the development was very different between men and women, and by employment status.

The number of men in cultural employment increased by 12.3% between 2019 and 2020 while the number of women in cultural employment decreased by 16.4%. The number of men then rose by 9.6% between 2020 and 2021 and by 8.2% for women. During the period, between 2019 and 2021, employees in culture increased by 12% while the number of self-employed decreased by 15.4% between 2019 and 2020, and stayed the same between 2020 and 2021. The number of those, who were both employees and self-employed in culture, decreased between 2019 and 2020 but increased again in 2021.

Between 2017 and 2019, the number of self-employed increased by 44.4% while the number decreased for both the number of employees and of those who were both self-employed and employees, by 10.8% and 38.5% respectively. From this it can be deduced that some of those working either solely as employees or both as employees and self-employed have become solely self-employed. However, as the number of self-employed people decreased while the number of employees and of those working as both employees and self-employed within culture decreased between 2019 and 2021, it seems likely that the development was impacted by Covid-19.

Within cultural employment, 12.2% only had a second job within culture in 2021, meaning that their main employment was in other occupations in other industries. This proportion decreased from 14.6% to 8.8% between 2019 and 2020, increasing again in 2021. From 2013, proportionally more men have had their main job within culture and more women only had their second job in culture.

Employment in motion picture post-production increasing
Employment in cultural industries was 5.3% of total employment according to IS-LFS and 3.4% according to register-based employment. The proportion has decreased from 2015, both according to the IS-LFS and register-based employment. Likewise, according to the IS-LFS, employment in cultural occupations has decreased since 2015, though notably especially between 2019 and 2020, increasing slightly again in 2021.

According to register-based employment the number of people employed in cultural industries increased by 2.2% between 2020 and 2021, compared with 1.8% in other industries. Within cultural industries, however, the number decreased in 15 of the 37 industries categorized as cultural, and by more than 10% in six of those. Proportionally the decrease was most prominent in printing of newspapers (1811), about 31.8%, and second most in other printing (1812) and retail sale of books in specialised stores (4761), around 13%. Looking at the number of individuals though, and not proportions, the decrease was most in other printing activities (1812) where it dropped by 57 individuals.

During the same period, 2020-2021, employment rose by more than 10% in eight of the 37 cultural industries. Proportionally the increase was most in motion picture, video and television programming post-production activities (5912), or 27.3% (from 22 to 28 people) and in support activities to performing arts (9002), by 26.3% (from 57 to 72). By number of individuals the increase was largest in motion picture, video and television programming production activities (5911), by 69 or 17.1%.

About the data
This data comes from both the Icelandic Labour Force Survey (IS-LFS) and the register-based employment (RBE). Cultural employment refers to the definitions of Eurostat. When updating numbers for 2021, two additional ÍSAT2008 categories were added to those categorized as culture by Statistics Iceland, see metadata for more details.

In IS-LFS data there is a cross-tabulation of cultural occupations (ÍSTARF95) and cultural industries (ÍSAT08) which Eurostat categorises as ‘fully cultural’. Cultural employment thus refers to all occupations in cultural industries as well as cultural occupations in other industries. In total, numbers for cultural employment from IS-LFS include all those who have a main and/or a second job within cultural occupations or cultural industries. Each individual is counted only once, even if they are both self-employed and employees in culture. If a person has a second job within culture, but a main job in other, they are included under cultural employment but not other.

As the RBE data does not include information on occupation classifications (ÍSTARF95), only industries are included and therefore only those employed in cultural industries are counted.