Where the Creative Class Jobs Will Be

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Richard Florida: Where the Jobs Will Be

In my last post, I mapped the projected growth in service jobs across America's metro regions. Today, I look at a subset of those higher-paying, higher-skill jobs for knowledge, professional, and creative workers that make up the creative class. More than 35 million people are currently employed in creative class work in fields like science, technology, and engineering; business, finance, and management; law, health care, and education; and arts, culture, media, and entertainment. The creative class makes up roughly a third of total employment and accounts for more than half of all wages and salaries in America. Creative class employment has seen relatively low rates of unemployment during the course of the economic crisis. Creative class jobs will make up roughly half of all projected U.S. employment growth - adding 6.8 million new jobs by 2018.

The map (above) plots the projected creative class job growth across U.S. metros. The biggest gainers are, by definition, the biggest regions. Greater New York tops the list with a projected gain of 250,000+ jobs, followed by Los Angeles (184,241), Greater Washington, D.C. (143,227), Chicago (139,577), Atlanta (106,148), Boston (103,120), Dallas (98,373), Philadelphia (92,187), Minneapolis-St. Paul (89,188), and Houston (88,024).

But job growth is a function of population size; it's expected that large regions will dominate the list of the biggest job generators. So, the next map plots the projected percentage change in creative class jobs for U.S. metros. Gainesville, FL - home to the University of Florida - is the biggest projected gainer, with a projected 17.7 percent increase in creative class jobs, followed by Richmond, VA (17.5 percent), Greater Washington, D.C. (17.4 percent), Morgantown, WV (17.01 percent), Punta Gorda, FL (16.9 percent), Sioux Falls, SD (16.7 percent), Ocala, FL (16.5 percent), Columbia, MO (16.4 percent), and Durham, NC (16.4 percent). The only large metro to make the list is Greater Washington, D.C., and college towns stand out, as well as a couple of smaller Florida communities where jobs are growing off of a small existing base.

The good news is that creative class jobs will continue to grow and provide high-wage, high-skill employment for a large and significant share of the American workforce. It's important to recognize that not all of these jobs require college degrees. Though nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of college graduates go on to do this kind of work, four in 10 creative class workers do not hold college degrees, according to analysis by my colleagues at the University of Toronto's Martin Prosperity Institute. The bad news is that creative class jobs will be geographically concentrated. That, combined with the decline of blue-collar jobs and the bifurcation of the workforce into high-pay, creative class jobs and much lower-pay service class jobs, will contribute to mounting economic, social, and geographic inequality. As a nation, we have to increase the number of creative class jobs, but we also need to do much, much more to improve service work as I noted in my previous post.

At bottom, a jobs strategy needs to start from a fundamental principle: That each and every human being is  creative and that we can only grow, develop, and prosper by harnessing the full creativity of each of us. For the first time in history, future economic development requires further human development. This means develop a strategy to nurture creativity across the board - on the farm, in the factory, and in offices, shops, non-profits, and a full gamut of service class work, as well as within the creative class. Our future depends on it.