Why Class Still Matters

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Class is a word that elicits strong, and sometimes strange, reactions from many Americans. Once a powerful construct understanding economies and societies, class has been all but banished from the lexicon of social scientists and from the public conversation.

It's time we put class back in the center of our vocabulary, especially so during this ongoing economic crisis and reset. The impacts of the crisis have been extremely uneven by class - hitting hardest at the industrial working class and their communities.

Over the coming week, I'll be posting on that, and also on the powerful effects of class on the wealth, innovativeness, and happiness of nations, drawing on a variety of statistical analyses conducted with Charlotta Mellander and my Martin Prosperity Institute colleagues.

We define class simply by peoples' position in the economy - not by perceived status, level of income, or what we consume, but by the kind of work we do. Conveniently, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps detailed statistics on the myriad occupations that make up the U.S. economy.

We identify three core classes:

The working class who work in production, transportation, construction, and related jobs.

The service class who work in jobs like food prep, grounds cleaning, building maintenance, personal care, administrative offices, and community, social, and protective services.

The creative class of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs; artists, designers, media types, and entertainers; and knowledge-based professionals in management, health care, education, and related fields.

I'll report on the relationship between class and various social and economic outcomes over the next several days, starting with the relationship between class and economic output tomorrow. On Wednesday we turn to class and technological innovation; class and entrepreneurship on Thursday; and class and the happiness of various nations on Friday. Along the way, I'll also post on the uneven ways that recessions impact different classes, and relationship between class and unemployment, among other things.

Stay tuned.

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Richard Florida is Senior Editor at The Atlantic and Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto. See his most recent writing at The Atlantic Cities. More

Florida is author of The Rise of the Creative Class, Who's Your City?, and The Great Reset. He is founder of the Creative Class Group.

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