NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Rise of The Creative Class

June 4, 2002

Creative jobs in science, art, media, research and technology now dominate our economy, and according to Richard Florida, professor of regional economic development at Carnegie Mellon University, they will change where we work and live. In his new book, "The Rise of the Creative Class" (Basic Books), he explains that in 1900 only 3 million people and 10 percent of the workforce were in the group he defines as the creative class. But things have changed dramatically in the last century.

  • The creative class has ballooned to 38 million workers and 30 percent of the workforce today.
  • During the same period, the working class peaked at 40 percent of the workforce in 1920.
  • Working class jobs now account for only 26 percent of the workforce.
  • During the same period, agricultural workers fell from 37 percent to virtually none.

Even the much vaunted service economy peaked in 1980 and has been in decline ever since. As a result of this shift, most of the conventional wisdom about jobs, industrial locations and relocations is obsolete.

Florida found that employment tends to grow in areas where the number of creative class workers has hit critical mass, that they are attracted to areas of cultural, social and ethnic diversity and that sheer city size isn't enough to guarantee the future.

His creative rankings -- areas ranked by an index that considers the population of creative class workers, high technology, innovation and population diversity -- yielded a top 10 for the creative class: San Francisco, Austin, San Diego, Boston, Seattle, Raleigh-Durham, Houston, Washington-Baltimore, New York and Dallas.

Source: Scott Burns, "The Creative Job As Fuel For Growth," Dallas Morning News, June 2, 2002.


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