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"We're still in the first minutes of the first day of the Internet revolution." – Scott Cook

The Creative Class

After watching part of the 60 Minutes Broadcast, “Are Robots Hurting Job Growth?,” I kept thinking about the notion of the Creative Class and what (if any) role this class will play in our future job market. According to some experts at MIT, technology is no longer creating jobs. For decades, we have watched technology simultaneously eliminate and create jobs. In the United States, we are now reaching a stage where technology is hurting our job growth.

The term “creative class” is difficult for many people to accept. The wording seems to offend both liberals and conservatives. It can offend anti-intellectuals for sounding elitist. It can offend Marxists for sounding too capitalistic. And it can offend those who feel it is referring to a counter-culture of idealists. The phrasing, although loaded with political connotations, is not what it seems. It is based in theories developed by economists, specifically the economist Richard Florida. A very, very vague definition of the creative class would be a person who can solve a complex problem using skills they acquired from years of education. Florida also defines the creative class by their desire to create “new meaningful forms.”

According to Florida, post-industrial cities must attract a creative workforce to successfully produce economic growth. Only three ingredients are needed to attract the creative class:

Technology, Talent, and Tolerance

The economic success of a city will usually have what is referred to as the three Ts. Technology is represented by a city’s high-tech and cutting-edge industries; talent is represented by a highly educated and skilled workforce; and tolerance is represented by cultural diversity, that is by welcoming gays, minorities and immigrants into the heart of society. So who are the creative class?

The original definition of the creative class would include two groups: the super-creative core and the creative-professionals. The super-creative core can be found in these occupations:

• computer and math
• architecture and engineering
• life, physical, and social science
• education
• training
• library positions
• fine-arts and design work
• entertainment
• sports
• media occupations

The creative professionals can be found in these occupations:

• financial operations
• legal positions
• healthcare
• technical
• high-end sales and sales management

It is estimated that 30% of Americans get paid to be creative, but studies show that money is not a motivating factor for creative people. No one knows what motivates creative people to be creative. This is something that many of the best sociologists, economists, and urbanists would like to figure out, especially now that many of our cities are facing declining job growth. The challenge now is to prevent our best creative capital from packing up and relocating to more appealing cities outside the U.S. Florida calls this “the flight of the creative class.”


Brown, M. (2010). The owl, the city and the creative class. Planning Theory & Practice, 11(1), 117-127. doi:10.1080/14649350903538004

Florida, R. (2003) Cities and the creative class. City and Community, 2(1), 3-19
DOI: 10.1111/1540-6040.00034

Florida, R., Mellander, C., & Stolarick, K. (2009). Talent, Technology and Tolerance in Canadian Regional Development. Working Paper Series: Ontario in the Creative Age. Retrieved from http://martinprosperity.org/media/pdfs/3Ts-Canada-Florida-et-al.pdf

Reese, L. A., Faist, J. M., & Sands, G. (2010). Measuring the Creative Class: Do we know it when we see it? Journal Of Urban Affairs, 32(3), 345-366. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9906.2010.00496.x

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