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Ranked: Top 10 Highest-Paid Celebrities

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The Top paid celebrities in 2021

Ranked: Top 10 Highest-Paid Celebrities

It can be hard to make money in media—but for those lucky enough to make it to the big leagues, the payoff can be astronomical .

In 2021, the world’s 10 highest-paid celebrities earned a combined $2.7 billion. Who are these high-earning entertainers, and how do they make their hundreds of millions?

Using data from Forbes, this graphic by Athul Alexander highlights the top paid entertainers around the world, based on 2021 pre-tax earnings (minus business expenses such as management fees, agent costs, etc).

The Highest-Paid Celebrities in 2021

The world’s celebrities may be well known for the media they produce, but the bulk of their earnings are made through business dealings.

First on the list is New Zealand director Peter Jackson, best known for directing, producing, and writing the screenplays for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies.

RankNameNationality2021 pre-tax earnings
1Peter Jackson🇳🇿​ New Zealander$580 million
2Bruce Springsteen🇺🇸​ American$435 million
3Jay-Z🇺🇸​ American$340 million
4Dwanye "The Rock" Johnson🇨🇦​ 🇺🇸​ American/Canadian$270 million
5Kanye West🇺🇸​ American$235 million
6Trey Parker and Matt Stone🇺🇸​ American$210 million
7Paul Simon🇺🇸​ American$200 million
8Tyler Perry🇺🇸​ American$165 million
9Ryan Tedder🇺🇸​ American$160 million
10Bob Dylan🇺🇸​ American$130 million

In addition to creating and directing blockbuster hits, Jackson is also the founder of the VFX studio Weta Digital, which he sold a portion of last year for a whopping $1.6 billion and the bulk of his earnings.

Second on the list is singer, songwriter, and musician Bruce Springsteen, who earned an estimated $435 million in 2021. Like Jackson, Springsteen’s earnings came from a major sale, as he sold Sony Music the rights to his entire music collection in a deal worth nearly $500 million last December.

One of the only actors on the list is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who comes in fourth place with an estimated $270 million in 2021 pre-tax earnings. But only about a quarter of his earnings came from leading roles in movies like Jungle Cruise and Red Notice, with the bulk coming from his tequila brand Teremana.

Some High-Level Trends

Taking a closer look at this list reveals a few trends worth highlighting:

  • Nine out of 10 entertainers on the list are American
  • Only two actors made the list, while six are musicians
  • All of top 10 earners in 2021 were men

Hollywood’s gender pay gap has been a hot topic of conversation over the last few years. Research indicates that there’s about a one-million-dollar pay gap between male and female actors at the “superstar” level.

But the gender gap in the entertainment industry extends further than that—women aren’t just underpaid compared to their male counterparts, they’re also just underrepresented, especially in big-decision, behind-the-scenes roles, and may subsequently miss out on the business opportunities made available.

Women have made the top 10 earners in Forbes celebrity rankings in recent years, including Kylie Jenner from 2018-2020, Taylor Swift in 2019, and Judge Judy Sheindlin in 2018. But they were the only females in an upper echelon of celebrity earners composed mainly by males.

Comparing YouTubers to Traditional Celebrities

As social media and online entertainment continue to gain traction, it’s interesting to see how much social media creators are earning compared to their traditional media counterparts.

According to Forbes, the highest-paid YouTuber (Jimmy Donaldson, better known as MrBeast) earned $54 million in 2021. Notably, that would place MrBeast in the top 25 of celebrity earners, just ahead of Taylor Swift’s $52 million in 2021.

With more celebrities embracing social media to grow followings and earnings revenue, it might not be long before we see more influencers and social media creators in the list of the world’s highest-earning celebrities.

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Economy

Mapped: Unemployed Workers vs. Job Openings, by U.S. State

On average, there are 75 workers available for every 100 job openings across the country. Here’s how it varies by state.

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map showing best U.S. states for jobs

Mapped: Unemployed Workers vs. Job Openings, by U.S. State

In the United States, there were about 75 workers available for every 100 job openings as of July 2023. This means there is a significant gap between labor and jobs available, but also many opportunities present in some states for potential job seekers.

This map, using data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, showcases the number of available workers per 100 job openings in each U.S. state.

Note: Available workers are unemployed workers who are in the labor force but do not have a job, have looked for one in the previous four weeks, and are currently able and available to work. Job openings are simply all unfulfilled positions that offer available work.

Workers and Job Openings by State

The below table lists out the number of unemployed workers per 100 jobs in every state.

Higher ratios, such as 110 workers per 100 job openings, mean there is more competition for each job opening in that state. Lower ratios suggest that it is harder to find workers in a given state.

RankStateAvailable Workers per 100 Job Openings
#T1California110.0
#T1New York110.0
#3New Jersey108.0
#4Connecticut102.0
#5Washington101.0
#6Nevada98.0
#7Texas89.0
#8Pennsylvania88.0
#9Michigan85.0
#10Hawaii79.0
#11Oregon77.0
#12Arizona76.0
#13Illinois75.0
#T14Indiana74.0
#T14Rhode Island74.0
#16Delaware72.0
#17Kentucky66.0
#18Ohio65.0
#T19Alaska63.0
#T19New Mexico63.0
#21Wyoming61.0
#22Louisiana60.0
#T23Florida59.0
#T23Kansas59.0
#T25Missouri58.0
#T25West Virginia58.0
#T27Georgia57.0
#T27Iowa57.0
#T29Idaho56.0
#T29Tennessee56.0
#T31District of Columbia55.0
#T31Mississippi55.0
#T31North Carolina55.0
#T34Colorado54.0
#T34Minnesota54.0
#36South Carolina53.0
#37Wisconsin52.0
#38Virginia51.0
#T39Maine50.0
#T39Oklahoma50.0
#41Utah48.0
#42Montana46.0
#43Alabama45.0
#T44Arkansas44.0
#T44Massachusetts44.0
#T44Vermont44.0
#47New Hampshire41.0
#48Maryland40.0
#49Nebraska40.0
#50North Dakota35.0
#51South Dakota35.0
U.S. Total 75.0

While states like New Jersey and California have more workers that they know what to do with, states like North Dakota have a 0.35 ratio of people to jobs, potentially tipping the balance of power to job seekers.

Over the last three years, job openings have increased the most in the state of Georgia, where there were only 0.57 people available for every open role in July. But despite growth in open positions, unemployment has hardly changed over the last year, wavering around 3%.

The Reason for the Gap

“If every unemployed person in the country found a job, we would still have 4 million open jobs.”– U.S. Chamber of Commerce

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the main driver of the current labor shortage was the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing more than 100,000 businesses to close temporarily and resulting in millions losing their jobs.

Subsequent government support for those who lost work and other subsidies made it easier for people to stay home and out of the workforce. A Chamber of Commerce survey found that 1-in-5 people have changed their work style since the pandemic, with 17% having retired, 19% having transitioned to a homemaker role, and another 14% working only part time.

The industries with the highest unemployment rates are also those that have added the most jobs, with leisure and hospitality experiencing the highest rates (5.1%) just ahead of wholesale and retail trade (4.4%).

Overall, though the job marker has started to cool somewhat, hiring is still outpacing quit rates. The national quit rate in July 2023 was 3.8%, compared to a hiring rate of 4%. And with 9.8 million job openings in the U.S., there should be ample opportunities for job seekers.

Where does this data come from?

Source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Notes/Definitions: Hire rates are calculated by dividing the number of hires by employment and multiplying that quotient by 100. Quit rates are calculated by estimating the number of quits for a reference period, then dividing quits by employment and multiplying by 100. The labor force participation rate is the share of the population that is either working or actively looking for work.  Unemployment rates are calculated as the share of the labor force that is unemployed. 

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