The Creative Class May Fade, But Not Compared to Everyone Else

The Atlantic Cities's Richard Florida on how the creative class is faring in the downturn

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If you can do your work on a laptop at Starbucks, you might be a member of the "Creative Class," a term coined by Richard Florida, the chief of the recently launched The Atlantic Cities, to describe an emerging group of media-types, artists, and techy-entrepreneurs who thrive on information shuttling. All is not well within this class. Last weekend, Scott Timburg argued in Salon essay that latest economic downturn has hit these workers hard. Timburg also contended that media does a poor job at telling the tale of this erosion, because "A fading creative class--experiencing real pain but less likely to end up in homeless shelters, at least so far, than the very poor--may not offer sufficient drama for novelists, songwriters or photographers."

Richard Florida has offered a friendly response to the essay. While he acknowledged that Timburg was right that this group is struggling, he explained "the creative class has in fact gotten off comparatively lightly" when stacked against the economic woes of everyone else. Florida marshals his own set of statistics to make the point:

All workers and all classes of work were hit by the economic meltdown. The creative class lost slightly less than three quarters of a million jobs during 2008-2010, the height of the economic crisis, less than two percent of all its jobs. Arts and media jobs declined at a higher rate, 4.9 percent, shedding 88,300 jobs. But this pales next to the destruction of more than two million service jobs and 5.3 million blue collar jobs, one in six jobs in that sector. In the first half of 2009, when national unemployment was at 8.7 percent, creative class unemployment was about half that level (4.4 percent) and just a third of the 15.2 percent rate faced by blue collar workers. 

You can read the rest of Florida's essay here.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.