Half of currently unemployed creatives have lost their job due to Coronavirus

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Being one of the world's largest creative communities, Creativepool is in a unique position to understand how the creative industry is struggling in self-isolation for the Coronavirus lockdown.

We had the power to make a difference by asking about the impact of the lockdown on businesses, employees and freelancers across our community. We created two surveys and launched them last month – one for full-time employees and freelancers, one for agencies, marketers and business leaders. Both included a section for unemployed creatives.

This is one of a series of articles which will look at the impact of COVID-19 on the creative industries. This article will examine the effects of the lockdown on the job market, including what the coronavirus lockdown will mean for the job market in the mid-to-long term.

Job losses

Nearly 50% of currently unemployed creatives have lost their job due to the coronavirus outbreak [Graph 1].

A number of pending job offers have been cancelled, and those who were working in small businesses have been laid off to make ends meet. Though this was sadly expected, it goes to strengthen the possibility that 3 in 4 small businesses may be forced to close by September, as evidenced in the first part of our report.

It can be safely assumed that the coronavirus outbreak has already caused a considerable amount of job losses in the creative industry, with projects either put on hold or cancelled, and clients rescinding their original plans with creative organisations.

44.7% of unemployed creatives believe they have lost their job due to coronavirus


Graph 1

This climate of stress isn't unfortunately enclosed in a small sample of job seekers: of those who have managed to stay afloat and retain their current job, over 70% are moderately-to-very worried about their current job and fear being made redundant soon [Graph 2].

70.1% of employed creatives are moderately-to-very worried about their current job


Graph 2

However, it looks like the pandemic is at least providing job seekers with some additional time to up their skills. Almost 3 in 4 unemployed creatives are using this time to reinvent themselves [Graph 3], hoping the new skills will help them stand back on their feet when the pandemic lockdown is over.

Still, creatives the world over are demonstrating resilience and hope as we navigate these uncharted waters. 71.3% are still actively applying for jobs, which was expected of those who need to rely on a reliable source of income to survive. It can perhaps be disheartening the opposite: 28.7% are not currently applying for jobs [Graph 4]. That makes up more than 1 in 4 unemployed creative who may have been discouraged by the current climate, and has therefore put on indefinite hold all his job-seeking endeavours.

Nearly 3 in 4 unemployed creatives are using this time to up their skills


Graph 3

Most unemployed creatives are still applying for jobs – but almost 30% aren't.


Graph 4

Here are some comments from our respondents:

"I moved to Spain for a job as Brand & Creative Services Director idle a hotel and resorts company n July last year. Then Covid hit and I have been made redundant. I am now stuck in Spain with my fiancée and puppy with no work, no money coming in and no way to get my family or belongings home to the UK. We are low on funds and have to leave our apartment in mid-May and we can’t really afford to extent."

Unemployed brand director, Spain

"I'm a creative director with over 20 years of experience running the full breath of design in the advertising industry from campaign visual centers to broadcast to experiential event marketing. I was recently laid off since I was the most recent hire from a multinational adverting agency that took huge hits due to the COVID-19 virus where almost all of our projects became postponed or completely cut from our calendar.

"I have seen this type of hardship before. During the 2009 economic down turn I was laid off at the beginning of my career in advertising and have learned from that experience that now is the time for me to dive back into learning more tools and to really hone your art and process. Taking this time to reflect on my process and making it a more succinct in order to be able to pick up the work that will be coming in, being able to be agile and fast will be what sets me up for success for when the market comes back. For now I'm updating all of my channels to reflect the work that I have been doing and reacting out for possible freelance opportunities. I'm an optimistic person and look forward to what my next adventure will be and who I will meet along the way."

Unemployed creative director, United States

A grim picture for the current job market

It certainly does not help that most organisations are not looking for new talent right now. Job offers are scarce, job postings are scarcer, which allegedly leads to an even fiercer competition when going for the few jobs that are left.

Exactly 80% of the surveyed companies are not currently hiring [Graph 5]. It is unclear whether they are planning to look for new talent soon, but such a considerable gap between supply and demand is likely to bring unprecedented consequences upon the job market in the creative industries.

And while some are relying on government help, most creatives are sceptical about their respective governments' financial measures to keep the economy afloat.

8 in 10 surveyed companies are not currently hiring


Graph 5

At the time our survey went live and we received responses, most of the creative industries had not been furloughed, with only 11% of businesses having chosen to furlough some or most of their staff [Graph 6]. We have however heard from more businesses which have chosen to put their staff on standby, and we can safely assume that the percentage has gone up in the past few weeks.

However, with creative businesses experiencing less clients and projects over time, it is hard to predict what exactly will happen if the lockdown continues for too long.

Some two weeks ago, only 12.9% of the surveyed organisations had chosen to furlough their staff


Graph 6

A pressure on the overall job market, and one that is weighing on the backs of freelancers as well. Freelancers in particular have been hit the hardest by the pandemic, losing a wealth of clients and having to rely on savings [Graph 7]. With over half of the surveyed freelancers not being able to survive for more than 3 months, the already tough and delicate balance of last year's job market is even more at risk, and the lockdown seems too far from over.

Over 90% of freelancers have seen their business at least moderately affected by the pandemic


Graph 7

Here are some more comments from a shattered job market:

"I'm a senior graphic designer and I'm in luxury fashion & retail. I used to work for a big company. Two months ago I got an opportunity to work for another luxury fashion organisation. It was a good offer & certainly a better company. I resigned, and accepted the new offer. While on my notice period, this new company decided to hold new hires because of the pandemic. And so, I ended up losing both jobs."

Unemployed senior graphic designer, Qatar

"I was hired four days before the lockdown was announced. I was so excited when I got the phone call telling me I got the job. I finally after months of searching got the job I wanted and very badly needed. I couldn’t wait to start my life and use my new degree to start doing something I wanted and enjoyed. I desired to use my skills in a creative and positive space and finally had my time to showcase my work. Little did I know that two days in I’d be getting a phone call late in the evening saying I was no longer wanted or needed. I was shattered but remained positive over the phone to my manager. After all, it was their fault."

Unemployed creative, United Kingdom

Creativepool's Coronavirus Survey Report

Here are some useful links to published articles:

Header image: Brighter Monday – Stuck in the wrong job, by Aaron Kandia.


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