A handwritten sign spotted on Nicollet Avenue today read “Another clown on welfare.” It was propped up next to a gentleman, face painted white, who was blowing bubbles at passing pedestrians.
He was one of three buskers and one beggar we passed in two blocks. It seemed like more than usual, even for downtown. I wonder whether the current economic situation has driven more people to busking. I also wonder whether they take home less money than buskers do when the economy is booming.
I don’t think there are any statistics published on that. The statistics about giving in general, however, may shed some light on the topic. A report published by the USA Foundation reveals that in the past forty years, even during recessions and economic downturns, actual giving (which has not been adjusted for inflation) has risen every year except one. And the drop in 1987 is blamed on a tax change that altered the timing of donations. The Chronicle of Philanthropy notes that anonymous donations also tend to become more popular during a recession.