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10 Facts - Queensland's cultural jobs

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reports cultural jobs by looking at cultural occupations – that is the type of work people do whether they be employed in a cultural industry or not. For instance you might be a graphic designer working for a school.

They also look at employment by cultural industry – that is the main activity of the business within which people work so that they can capture all jobs, cultural and non-cultural, that the cultural sector contributes. Cultural industries employ lots of people whose jobs are non-cultural for example an accountant in a library. The following diagram visualises how cultural employment is conceptualised.

ABS employment diagram

So what is considered a cultural occupation?

A cultural occupation is defined across three groups – heritage occupations, arts occupations and other cultural occupations. See insert (*nfd is not further defined). For more information see ABS explanatory notes Breakdown of cultural occupations

Top 10 facts                                                                                    

1. 83,233 Queenslanders were employed in a cultural occupation and/or a cultural industry.[i]

2. 59,028 persons cited their main job was in a cultural industry:

  • this is an increase of 2% from 2006
  • 30,879 (52%) of these were employed in a non-cultural occupation
  • 16% of all persons employed in cultural industries in Australia resided in Queensland.

3. 52,354 people cited a cultural occupation as their main job in Queensland:

  • this is an increase of 9% from 2006 with growth within arts occupations the main driver
  • 45% (or 23,744) of these cultural occupations are in a non-cultural industry
  • cultural occupations represents 3% of all employed persons in Queensland

4. There are more males (53%) than females (47%) in cultural occupations in Queensland, but unlike most other states and territories in Australia, Queensland employed more females than males across the cultural industries (including non-cultural occupations).

5. Employment of young people in cultural occupations in Queensland is 2% above the national average; however more older (55 years+)(18%) than younger (15-24 years+) Queenslanders (12%)[ii] are employed in cultural occupations.

6. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples make up 2% of all persons employed in cultural occupations as their main job – this falls a little short of overall Indigenous labour force participation (2.5%) in Queensland.[iii]

7. A quarter of all people employed in cultural occupations in Queensland were born overseas. Of these, 40% (5,184) originated from a non-main English speaking country, compared with 53% nationally.

8. Queensland (at 38%) has proportionally fewer people in cultural occupations receiving a gross weekly income[iv] of $1000 or more per week, than nationally (43%). This disparity is evident also when you look at employment by cultural industry (which includes both cultural and non-cultural occupations). Nationally, 39% of people employed in the cultural industries received a gross weekly income of $1,000 or more per week, whereas in Queensland it was only 31%.

9. Three-fifths (62%) of persons employed in cultural occupations in Queensland work at least a 35 hour week. 57% across cultural industries said they worked at least 35 hours per week.

10. The majority employed in cultural occupations live in the Greater Brisbane area (57%).[v] The majority of workers across the cultural industry live in Greater Brisbane (32,324) compared with 26,565 living in the rest of Queensland. This aligns with population percentages in Queensland more broadly.[vi] 

For more detailed research that focuses on artist employment see the Australia Council commissioned research by David Throsby and Anita Zednik 2010, Do you really expect to get paid? An economic study of artists in Australia Australia Council for the Arts.


[i] Cultural employment data is collected by the ABS in the Census every five years. See Employment in Culture 2011, Queensland. Cultural occupations were classified to the most detailed (six-digit) level of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO), First Edition, Revision 1 (cat. no. 1220.0). Cultural industries are coded according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) 2006 Revision 1.0 (cat. no. 1292.0).  See ABS Explanatory Notes.

[ii] Older people are classified as over 55 years of age and young people are 15 to 24 years of age.

[iii] Queensland Treasury and Trade, Census 2011: Labour Force in Queensland

[iv] Gross weekly income refers to the total of all wages/salaries, government benefits, pensions, allowances and other income the person usually receives.

[v] Refers to ABS Greater Capital City Statistical Area (GCCSA) for Queensland which includes Brisbane Inner City, Brisbane South, Brisbane North, Brisbane West, Brisbane East and parts of Logan-Beaudesert, Ipswich, Moreton Bay South and Moreton Bay –North. For more information refer to Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 1 - Main Structure and Greater Capital City Statistical Areas, July 2011 (cat. no. 1270.0.55.001) available from the ABS website. See also the GCCSA map, pages 6 and 7.

[vi] At June 2012, the ABS states that the population of Greater Brisbane (which excludes the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast) was 2.19 million people, accounting for nearly half of Queensland's population. See ABS, 3218.0 - Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2011-12