The number of artists in America grew 46 percent to more than 1 million during the decade from 1971 to 1980, outpacing the 40 percent increase in the number of professional and technical workers in the labor force, according to a recent report by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Growth occurred in nearly all divisions of the artist population, with the number of authors increasing by the largest percentage - a 115 percent increase over 1971. The number of designers grew by 87 percent; painters-sculptors by 53 percent.
The performing arts experienced the least growth. Numbers of both musicians-composers and actors increased 21 percent. The number of dancers grew 20 percent. The performing-arts occupations also experienced the most severe unemployment over the decade - with the unemployment rates for actors averaging 40 percent, compared with a musicians-composers average of 6.9 percent.
The entire artists occupational group averaged 4.1 percent unemployment. During the same period the unemployment rate for all professional and technical workers averaged only 2.5 percent.
This information is included in the endowment report, ''Artists Employment and Unemployment, 1971-1980.'' It's the first study to present a detailed year-by-year compilation of employment data on American artists.