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The ‘Creative Class’ Revisited

Richard Florida showed us the earning power of the Creative Class. Ten years on we’ll ask him how the creatives are doing in tough times.

Creative Class share of the workforce is innovation, measured as patents per capita; high tech industry, using the Milken Institute's widely accepted Tech Pole Index. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Creative Class share of the workforce is innovation, measured as patents per capita; high tech industry, using the Milken Institute’s widely accepted Tech Pole Index. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

A decade ago, on the other side of two wars, an economic meltdown, and mass unemployment, economist Richard Florida made a big splash asserting the economic power and glory of what he dubbed the “creative class.”

A new social class, he said, of writers and dancers and artists, innovators in science and medicine, technology and media.Freelancers and free thinkers whose open minds were reshaping the world and firing up a lot of wealth.  Suddenly, every ambitious city and town wanted to be a creative class magnet.

Ten years on, how’s that all going?

This hour, On Point:  Richard Florida and the creative class, revisited.

-Tom Ashbrook


Richard Florida, author of the global best-seller The Rise of the Creative Class and Who’s Your City?

James K. Galbraith, teaches economics and a variety of other subjects at the LBJ School and University of Texas- Austin’s Department of Government.

From Tom’s Reading List

Atlantic “As bad as the overall economic situation may be, the creative class has in fact gotten off comparatively lightly. The creative class added nearly three million jobs between 2001 through 2010, growing jobs at a seven percent clip.”

American Prospect “Cities that shelled out big bucks to learn Richard Florida’s prescription for vibrant urbanism are now hearing they may be beyond help.”

City Journal “In his popular book The Rise of the Creative Class, which just appeared in paperback after going through multiple hardcover editions, Florida argues that cities that attract gays, bohemians, and ethnic minorities are the new economic powerhouses because they are also the places where creative workers—the kind who start and staff innovative, fast-growing companies—want to live.”


“Box of Rain” by The Grateful Dead

“Got Money” by Lil Wayne & T-Pain

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  • ToyYoda

    I dislike the fact that amazon and the internet have been the primary reason that local bookstores and shops are disappearing.  I try to buy  things locally to help the local economy, but that only has limited help because most stores are chains and very little revenue generated at a store go to a floor employee.

    On the other hand, I am grateful to amazon for introducing me to brands and products that I may have never known had I only shopped around at local stores.  Also, their customer review section is a valuable resource and their customer service is often many times better than what you can get locally.

    • jefe68

      Wrong show.

      • Baileyjones

         Right show, wrong comment…

  • Patrik

    I heard Mr. Florida speak on ‘The Cycle’ yesterday on MSNBC, he’s spot on as most social analysts and researchers are. 

    Question:  How can we identify, nurture and encourage specific creative talents or skills in children at younger ages so they have a solid idea of what they want to do when they grow older? 
    College isn’t for everyone and everyone isn’t a hyper-ambitious money chasing corp. exec.

    It’s the lager public, I fear, that seems to be hypnotized by marketers on how life should be lived and consequentially parents raise their kids on that sort of “rail” system perpetuating this economic and social downward spiral. 

    I applaud those creative young adults, especially the ones that aren’t so much focused on the bottom line but on the beneficial externalities to the communities that come from the services or products they provide.

    • Baileyjones

       Patrick… I can agree with you, especially the latter part, but when the creative young adults get all juvenile and expect the same pay-off as the guys who got educated and went to work… then they are just plain wrong. We follow the Olde English rule… No work- No Pay.
      and… if your “work” is not as valued as someone else’s its not their fault- its yours.

  • Robert

    I think the creative class is intrinsic to who we are as individuals, it’s the antidote to the lack of diversity and creativity that occurs in the corporate culture. I even started a website devoted to creative individuals and feature area artists, etc.

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  • jefe68

    I guess with all the cuts in music and art education in the last decade, it would seem that the idea of a creative class is very much based on class. If you are not in a well off school district with arts education program you are not going to be exposed to the process of creativity. One should note that music teaches children how to work in a group setting while using the brain in ways that other subjects do not even get close to. Art can teach students how to problem solve. Cutting arts funding in schools is a fools errand. Yet the first things to go when school budgets are cut is music and art. Music and art teach discipline and organization skills as well as problem solving.

    If there was any need for proof of the power of music I would say the ‘El Sistema’ program in Venezuela is a success despite the politics of Chavez. It’s produced some world class musicians who came from poverty.  Gustavo Dudamel being the most famous.


  • jim

    The creative class is now becoming the elitist class.

    if there is a creative class, many of these creative class members are struggling to survive due to the structural unemployment problem and the structural shift of this economy.

    if you notice the creative class is concentrated in area where housing is quite expensive. 

  • AC

    my hubby is a photographer/videographer – he has had to take on more and more commercial and editing work rather than do the landscapes he is really, really good at….:(

    • jefe68

      I know a few designers who have gone belly up in this recession. I would count ever cent he’s earning at what he likes to do as a good thing.

  • Sara

    bogus…healthcare and law?

  • Sara

    I’m going to school for accounting.  Does that make me an artist?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

    “Creative mathematics” got us all into this mess. There is a place for imagination and it is not in the healthcare, legal & economic fields. Leave the creation of art to the artists! 

  • Drew Down

    Rearranging and fudging numbers in your favor has become our idea of creativity.

    Creation is not Destruction.

  • Joe in Philly

    Today’s world: (i) a highly paid inventor and entrepreneurial class, (ii) a small cadre of well-paid managers that support (i), including lawyers and finance folks; (iii) a middle class comprising  mostly civil servants; (iv) a majority mac-job labor force that receives minimum wage with little-to-no benefits; (v) a significant under-class, reliant on social welfare programs.
    Bottom line: those with ideas and the ability to execute on ideas will be rewarded, and the rest will be struggling to make ends meet.
    Consequence: increasing economic disparity (given the status quo wrt tax and employment policy)
    Why: technology (that dis-intermediates traditional jobs) and free trade (that pressures labor costs)
    Welcome to the information age!

  • Adks12020

    To the question about factory workers and need for creative outlets….. People like B.B. King, Buddy Guy, etc. picked cotton as children and teens but were given a creative outlet called the blues.  What did they do? They became world class blues musicians and American icons.  Artistic creativity is good for everyone.

  • Christine Robinson

    Being a part of “the creative class” has to begin with the mindset first. As a creative person (a writer), you have to make a conscious decision to take a practical approach to making your art work for you. I chose resume writing. While I’m still very much a starving artist in many respects, I live according to my artistic priorities and principles. I can’t see myself ever achieving such independence had I chosen a more lucrative path. When I struggle to pay my bills, I do often wish I’d gone that way. But overall, I think this is the more stable (or less precarious) way to live. It’s sustainable.

  • Adks12020

    “Box of Rain”!!! Very nice Tom..excellent choice.

  • Sara

    In this context of creativity, I don’t see how construction wouldn’t be creative.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      I see that, too. When I went looking for a decent paying job at age 22, my heart was set on becoming a welder at the Quincy Shipyard. I was not employed by General Dynamics because the company psychologist who interviewed me said: “It’s our opinion that you are a dyed-in-the wool metal sculptor who only wants access to welding tools in order to make art.” So, I became a Union Carpenter, instead, building bridges on a new Interstate highway. It was not creatively satisfying work, believe me. It wasn’t until my late 30s that I got to “play” with molten metal. I make original scuptures & one of a kind jewelry pieces now. Creatively satisfying but unsustainable, economically. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.  

  • Michele DeWitt

    I am the Economic Development Director in Williamsburg, VA.  We used Florida’s concepts to create an incentive zone for creative economy businesses.  Enacted in February 2011.  5 new businesses and 28 jobs since then!

    • Hennorama

      Is fewer than 2 jobs/month a success story?

  • Sherry

    Sadly, even occupations you would think would encourage creative thinking actually resist it–namely the educ. field, with the pressure to study for and teach to tests.

  • Blitzmontreal

    both my husband and I are in the creative class. but we find our salaries have gone down in the last ten years. However we still have a reasonably stable economic life. I have a film production company in Montreal and we are job creaters. It is really a very long slog….

  • Michael

    The creative class might be a class defined by academics and researchers but do these people self identify as a collective group like those of the “working class”?
    Jacksonville NC

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      Personally, I’ve always been “working class”. Yes, I have written professionally (on the Arts & Community) and have been a self-employed artist/designer for decades but I’ve always needed that “day job” to pay the freight. I think us truly, inately creative folks will ALWAYS struggle to survive in this country. We cannot be servants to 2 masters, simultaneously. Those who self-identify as members of the so-called “creative class” are pretentious, overeducated poseurs for the most part.

  • Danserig

    What does Dr. Florida think of the consequence of his work that policy makers and college administrators now use the term ‘creative economy’ to substantiate degrees in the arts and design? Now the outputs (e.g. students), even in the arts, are increasingly viewed as workforce commodities – something quite antithetical to the purposes of an education in the arts. Jobs are great, and smart, creative people, will get jobs. But that should not be the driving force behind a degree in the arts. 

  • Janie

    I live in southern Vermont where lots of people bought into the idea of a creative sector reviving the economy. We have a small art museum, a once-a-month gallery walk, a literary festival, and lots of people writing poetry, doing amateur theatre, yoga, painting, potting, and making music. All these have grown in the past 20 years. But the hoped-for revival of the community hasn’t happened. The basic institutions (schools, police force, newspaper) are still weak, and most important, the economic base –  the median household income is about $35,000 — can’t support quality in the creative efforts.  The best leave the community (or spend the winters in New York or Boston), leaving some pretty mediocre stuff competing in a weak marketplace.  No life-sustaining jobs have been created. Many artists are still “trust-funders.”  In short, the arts have been no substitute for real economic development, which is desperately needed in rural and semi-rural areas.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I thought the creative class seeds an economy and then can’t afford to stay put, because property values have sprung, and so the creative sorts go to another outpost.  I believe this is called the Montmartre effect, at least where I live that is the word.  

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      Funny, because I call it the “Boston/Cambridge” effect.

      • Adks12020

        the same thing is happening in Brooklyn, NY

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

          I’ve relocated back to Providence after 10 years banging my head against the cliquey “artistic” set of Boston trust fund babies who are the gatekeepers of the Arts, today. No different in NYC, Martha’s Vineyard, etc. Try Providence where artistic talent is TOLERATED still & not judged as a personality defect

          • Guest

             Good luck!

        • nj_v2

          And in probably hundreds of other places. The artist/musician/etc. class has always existed on the fringes of, or within isolated pockets within larger metro areas that have enough economic oomph to support them. 

          As town, cities, or neighborhoods get more economically successful overall, property values go up, and those—including artists—living closer to the ground get squeezed as their incomes don’t rise in proportion to the  inflation in real estate.

      • nj_v2

        Can J.P. be added, yet?

        (I haven’t lived close in to Boston for a while.)

  • LiAnneAna

    I’ve heard time and time again that artists are usually the ones that are the first to move into run down neighborhoods and develop community there, which eventually leads to more mainstream folks moving into that same neighborhood and the build up of that location in a more commercial way. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      It’s true. In turn, gentrification drives up housing prices and that forces the folks who made it livable OUT.  

  • Ky Dj

    You can be as smart, creative, and hard-working as you want, but as long as you have a government & banking system which robs you of 3% of each transaction (via credit/debit cards, etc), and a system which depreciates the value of your currency each year by an amount equal to your increased productivity, then you will always be behind and feel stressed.  You can never save a true representation of your past work and you will always be forced to inject your symbol of that past work (dollars, etc..) into this corrupt banking & currency system, or lose any chance at wealth, retiring, or much time for happiness.
    The corrupt war-mongering knowledge workers who have a knowledge of this privately held currency system will always get ahead based on their genealogy and related connections.  More creative people would be great, but watch out because certain others in the government/war/banking system in and out of the US don’t want creative people to have enough time to sit around and think about anything other than catching up with their depreciating currency and ever-increasing bills (increasing mainly to the depreciation of their currency.)

    • Baileyjones

       EL… you are as screwed up as most of the protesters were. If you are paying 3 percent to have a transaction- for gosh sake- go with cash, or find another bank. I have not paid a transaction fee in 20 years. Do not put up with it.

  • Sara

    Everyone online is having a different conversation than what Richard Florida is talking about because his thesis doesn’t make any sense.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      Exactly. We all did a much better job of addressing the role of “the Creative Class”-here- than Tom’s guests did, on-air.

  • Susan

    I left financial services afte 30 years because the business model is broken and there is very little room in this business for creativity to fix the issues so we can better serve clients vs stockholders and regulators. I decided to take the risk to be a consultant be a part of the future solution. I don’t know if  I can make a living but there are ways to freelance. We can all be more creative is imagination engaged. 

  • Terrence

    I am in real estate and have noticed many areas come back and thrive because of artists and creative gays. They do drive the economy.   They often move into neighborhoods that are neglected.   They move in because they are inexpensive stabilize areas and often drive a neighborhood back.   I saw this in the south end of Boston and in an area of miami called the design district more recently and many neighborhoods in NYC.   They are then often forced out when the yuppies take over..

  • Yar

    Education is essential.  An educated community demands and has resources to support the arts.  A self reinforcing component of economics is when good business leaders won’t relocate to an area because they don’t want to raise their family in the current environment.
    Much of Kentucky falls into this situation.  We have a rural development center in my town with an orchestra pit, it has never been used as far as I know.  The center is more than ten years old.  We have many local students taking private music lessons.  It is a shame not to hold local concerts to show off our talent.  In my mind it this is the essence of economic development.
    Maybe things will change, less than a month ago our community finally ended prohibition. 

  • Joe in Philly

    Mr. Galbraith provides a very compelling argument. But both professors miss a very important point, science and technology ultimately looks to make existing (mature) businesses more efficient (that is, more technology, less human input). New business (industries) are then needed to provide employment for the every increasing work force. But, look at the new economy industries: Facebook (3,600 employees with $67 billion market value) and compare this to GE (300,000 employees with $200 billion market cap). Get the picture? New companies are not generating jobs. This is a secular change that everyone seems to overlook.

    • Robert

       Not sure “secular” is the best term. New companies are, in-fact creating new jobs. Just not the same kind of jobs they are replacing. By-the-way… whatever happened to the buggy whip makers when buggys and horses were replaced by automobiles? They went on to learn to make other things. Things that were needed. We have the same problem now. Change is difficult. Moaning about the change will not help. Get busy.

  • Dick Johnson

    I moved from New York to New Orleans 50 years ago.  For years, I have long believed that the creative class of this city and region consists of the musicians, artists, writers, and chefs of the black, creole, and cajun cultures–and that these cultures spread out from here across the country.  But it is difficult to see the economic payoffs locally.  Still, this could be the most creative area in the country, the most authentic–OK, I’m losing my grip.

    • Guest

       There is no economic payoff – there never has been. Mr. Florida is just imagining things through his rose colored glasses. When it comes to the creative class, their glasses ARE always half-empty.

  • EL

    The arts are the purist form of creativity – a sort of playground for creative effort which allows for the extremes of creativity.  When you are very creative that translates well into other occupations.  If you visit business schools which focus on entrepreneurship you will find that teams in those schools tend to pick artistic or creative leaders and that these leaders tend to be the ones with the most ideas and the most comfort with the ambiguity found in most start-ups.  Creativity and leadership go hand & hand.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      I have not found this to be true in the real world.

    • Sara

      me neither

    • Guest

      ” Creativity and leadership go hand & hand.”

      Are you kidding me??? Most “leaders” concentrate on stabbing others in the back and self-preservation!!

  • Rick

    Concerning the statement on whether the creative class is a driver of the economy or not: everything from Apple Computer (with its iTunes” to websites like Netflix, Spotify and content curators like the Huffington Post and so on all benefit and prosper greatly on the backs of self-employed creative it’s like musicians, writers, artists, etc. Creative’s are going to create no matter what the economy and most of them do it with little or no security and no healthcare. Meanwhile, the commercial beneficiaries of their work and the public benefit greatly.

    • Joe in Philly

      Agree. I spoke with a “columnist” from the Huffington Post yesterday; they do not get paid. The vast majority of Apple employees are minimum wage retailers. What is Spotify and how many people do they employee? Welcome to low employment potential at low wages!

      • Guest

        Read my comments above! Creative people have always been exploited. Eli Whitney had his invention stolen by everyone (because it was pretty easy to copy – might have been one of the first cases of piracy).

  • TFRX

    Tom mentioned “oversaturated with artists” and the Vermont poster here.

    Southern Vermont, even in the summer season or when the skiing is good, doesn’t have a very large or dense population.

    “Oversaturation” is a varied term. Vermont is one thing, Lexington or Pittsburgh another, and yet more definitions are discussed on this board for what may well be each different neighborhood in NYC.

  • Kwren

    I wonder what effect the “Winner Take All Economy” has on the creative class, especially in the arts, including music.  We have seen it manifest an economies-of-scale effect on many creative jobs, making it harder for a large number of people to make a living doing things that ca be shared widely via electronic and other media.

  • Dave

    Why do people still call James Galbraith for anything?  These large cities he mentions have become the large cities because of the creative people who came before and who built these cities in the first place.  Many of these large cities, which seem important, are mostly resting on their laurels and are remaining large because of past creativity.  Those same cities which lose creativity end up falling like Detroit and the rest – until the creative folks come rushing back in.

    • Sara

      Disagree.  James Galbraith is the one making sense.

  • Katherine

    How is creativity a ‘class’ of us? In my view, it’s creativity itself which is the mover and shaker. All of us have the capacity to be creative if we’re willing to take risks, open our minds and hearts, do something differently, see something in a new way, be motivated to actually solve a problem. In my view, it’s status quo which is inherently stultifying and dangerous. In its own way, status quo represents a refusal to be creative. It’s a type of laziness and thoughtlessness.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      Well stated!

    • Guest

       But will you be REWARDED for being creative, by your boss, or even society? Do people really care if an artist, or inventor gets ripped off (as long as they can still get their music or new toy)?

      • Perry

        I support Dr. Florida’s expansion of the notion of the creative class. I have been part of an organization that started soliciting more involvement by workers in non-management ranks in making suggestions about improving the way their job was handled. Originally, this was as part of OSHA’s VPP (Voluntary Protection Program) initiative to get workers actively pursuing ways to improve their own occupational safety but we found that there were significant dividends in improved quality as well as worker morale. when workers in ANY field are encouraged to use their heads it is good for all concerned. This is the way the creative culture can improve economic prosperity in is country.

        • Guest

          It’s best, though, for the owners, bosses and stockholders, isn’t it? See my comment about “the filthy rich” and how THEY get there – it doesn’t have much to do with creativity!

        • Guest

          I am sure Mr. Florida thanks you for the purchase of his books (and updates) :-)

  • Maggie

    Working at an art college on the North Shore of Boston, we have taken professional practice initiatives very seriously – creating a plethora of programming meant to enhance our students’ ability to manage their own careers. A lot of this mission is supported by the fact that creative thinking as a marketable skill does not lose value when the economy is down, it in fact becomes even more valuable. That being said, from my perspective, what is more important than making sure that every artist becomes a skilled business leader, is a cultural recognition for the economic benefits of supporting and collaborating with the arts and creative industries in general. Increasing the amount of commerce between artists, graphic designers, creative thinkers and those in the business class will lead to a stronger city – economically and aesthetically. 

    Richard’s point about the economy and creativity working both ways was a good one. Yes, when people with economic power decide to invest in the “arts” you will see development in those arenas. Nonetheless, this is not always with the most genuine of intentions. When the Brahmins in Boston decided to build the cultural institutions here, it was a way of developing their own cultural capitol under the guise of education. Conversely, areas such as Boston’s South End (an example that could be made with thousands of locations), you see the presence of artists and creative spaces supporting economic development. As is the usual case, artists move into a unfavorable part of town, slowly but surely restaurants, shops and expensive real estate follow. Then as the usual case continues…artists then are not able to afford to live in the area, and move onto the next location…

  • Avonhoffmann

    I think that the term “creative class” conflates artists (starving) with people who have a creative mindset, resulting in services for eat other and the rest of us. Thus, the trust fund artists in Vermont do not necessarily lead to bustling economic activity. On the other hand, the fairly unsuccessful song writer in Nashville who opens a toy store does so. Also, many young people who learn about business or law decide do their work in a casual, “creative” looking style, if you will, with the kind of personal relationships characterize the “creative” class. There is a desire to recreate the social networks of a small town within the typically larger cities in which these cultures develop; I think this is one of the reasons the “creatives” leave neighborhoods that have gentrified too  much; the communities have become too large, and also have pushed out the highly- desirable-to-creatives diversity.

    • nj_v2

      Yeah, this kind of sums up some of the problem i was having with this “creative-class” designation, too.

      Seems like kind of a mushy moniker. 

      On the one hand, i’d guess the first thing it would conjure up in most people’s minds would be artists, musicians, actors…

      But the definition seems to be anyone that creates anything that leads to some sort of economic expansion. I suppose Bill Gates is as “creative” as a local jeweler.

      Is he more “creative” because his enterprises profit more? Do we need to then bring in all of the parameters of economics (wages, government policies, externalities, subsidies, labor policy…) to be able to make judgements about “creatives.”

      I’m confused.

  • Drew Down

    Does Creativity breed wealth creation or vise-versa?

    Ask Woody Guthrie. Arguably one of the most creative individuals that has ever lived and his thousands of songs, poems, and recorded thoughts will clearly define which I think comes first.

  • Greyman

    Or call this show “The Rise of the New Goliards”: contemporary contemporaneity’s answer to the diffusion and place of the intellectual class (the actually educated class, the “creative” class) in the 12th-13th centuries CE (Carmina Burana meets Google & Amazon). The relative levels of political disaffection and economic assimilation experienced by members of this class will be clear by the 60th anniversary of the launch of the Rolling Stones, depending on what changes befall education policy and non-profit arts funding, depending on paths taken by the for-profit publishing, music, and entertainment industries themselves, depending on performance of the economy overall and how “culture” is advertised and self-advertised. We’ll all get to see whether “culture” can be (re)conceived in terms of isolate localities with distinctly local textures and orientations rather than simply extending the term in office of a dilute national pablum of mass culture that has lost most of its nutritive value along with most of its gustatory appeal.

  • Terry

    Unfortunately I didn’t tune in until the last 10 or so minutes of the show, so can’t comment on the entirety. But I was appalled to hear Galbraith talk about the “service” economy, in which he lumped retail workers, maintenance workers and school teachers together. Please, Mr. Galbraith. I grant you that retail and maintenance workers do an honest day’s work and provide much needed services in our society. But teachers are professionals, all of whom have at least one college degree and many of whom have advanced degrees. How insulting to an entire profession of dedicated people, and a profession that drives creativity at that. Disgusted with you, Galbraith.

    • Gabor Nagy

      I would say you are a snob but you wouldn’t get it, you have your nose above the clouds….

      • Terry

        GMG and Gabor Nagy – I understand why you both   reacted as you did to my comment. I didn’t express myself very well. My many apologies for offending. I do get it, Gabor, yet I still feel that Mr. Galbraith insulted teachers, and perhaps others as well. As I said, I only came in on the last ten minutes….

    • GMG

      Your comment is disgusting in its own way, as it disparages all the non-teachers in the service sector, which includes an awful lot of people.  

      • Terry

        Sorry, didn’t mean to disparage anyone; just defending the under-appreciated teachers of America. As I said, I only came in on the last ten minutes so perhaps should have kept my big mouth shut.

    • agavegirl

      Your comment is disgusting, my husband, who holds a teaching degree but chose to work with his hands as a mechanic, has to deal with these attitudes at work, from the engineers that he works with to the business executives in the corner offices.  None of them could do his job, he could easily do theirs and has, frequently coming up with enormous savings for a publicly traded Fortune 500 company but he gets nothing in return, every now and then they throw a bone of free tickets to a professional baseball game or something like that.  

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  • Guest

    The “creative class” will always remain the (exploited) stepchildren of the business class:

    1. Number of independent inventors (per capita) is going down at a drastic rate (based on PTO statistics). Who wants to shell out $15K-$50K for a patent that is likely to get an inventor NOTHING (but heartache). Not to mention the 6 months – 5 years effort and maybe $30K it might take for a prototype. nventions can’t be defended by the little guy anymore (costs over $1M). Who will want to become an inventor in the U.S. anymore? Young people? How can they possibly afford it? The boon for invention in the U.S. was the period from 1850-1970. Now we have decided to adopt the “European patent system”, which rewards large companies. Just wait for what happens to U.S. inventors now!

    2. The “creative class” has never been rewarded anywhere near as the “financial class”

    3. Creative technical people at companies are never promoted and rewarded the way that business executives are, regardless of their creative contributions. There is no “dual track” to climb the corporate ladder. It’s either become an executive or forget it! Also, corporate inventors almost never get large bonuses or raises when they invent a new process or product – they certainly don’t get a share of the profits, so why bother? (Facebook has over 3000 employees but they NONE OF THEM has come up with a new way to monetize the internet, even after 5 years).

    4. Musicians are still ripped off all the time

    5. People don’t think creativity is something that has real, tangible value, or at least value that can easily be assigned a value. We need something like a “calculus, or scale of creativity”

    6. People with money will always dangle it in front of the creative class to see how high they will jump to get it (i.e contests, X-Prizes, Elance, and now unpaid “crowd-sourcing”)

    7. Speaking of “crowdsourcing”, BP tried to do this to find ideas to stop and clean up the Gulf disaster. They claim they got nothing of value out of the exercise and consequently NO ONE got anything in exchange for their combined million hours of effort! At least this guying is suing claiming his efforts contributed something of value and he wants his compensation now (so much for rewarding the creative class!!!):


    The creative class has always been treated by people with money as being “suckers” and I don’t see that changing despite what Florida might say (he’s just someone else making money claiming otherwise).

  • Robert

    I have 3 things to say…
    1. I live in one of those creative areas of the country and can support the ideas put forth from Florida’s book. Only thing is that this was old business 30 years ago when I was preaching team involvement and creativity in the semiconductor industry. I heard nothing new.
    2. It is incredibly ironic to have listened to anti-Amazon screed in the first half of the show then to have it followed with praise for the creative class. Hello…? The reason Amazon IS successful is because of the creativity of the founders and those creative people who joined the Amazon team. Can’t have it both ways.
    By the way… the world is changing. Those customers who want old-style retail can use the old-style brick and mortar stores until either or both pass out of fashion or adapt.

    As for the “horrible” working conditions in Amazon fulfillment centers… well if they do  not like the deal, they are free to leave. It actually sounds like a pretty sweet place for the workers to me.
    3. If you are going to put up a phone number to call… you might try (creatively) calling it to see if the number works. It did not for me.

    Nonetheless, I like the show in general.


  • Guest

    Mr. Florida, creative people will never be well compensated or rewarded (financially) for their contributions. Sure they might get “a nice certificate” and pat on the back, but lots of money – NO (unless they fight for it)!

  • Guest

    When it comes to the creative class, their glasses ARE always half-empty.

    • Slipstream

      Totally empty when they were them on their noses.

  • Guest

    How the “filthy rich” get THEIR money:


    Doesn’t seem to involve much “creativity” to me, unless you include moving your money to foreign countries, finding other tax havens, or just renouncing your U.S. citizenship (something that seems to be getting more and more popular) – now THAT’s being creative, Mr. Florida!

  • Samsara

    So hairdressers are part of the creative class, but bankers aren’t? Richard Florida’s definitions are so slippery, whether it’s “creative,” “the creatives,” or “the creative class”. So much so that they are useless. 

    I’m so glad that James K. Galbraith was on this show to provide some sanity. 

  • GMG

    Florida’s focus on the role of place in the economy seems as valid as ever, and is still a breath of fresh air. Sometimes it seems like economists forget that economies happen in places, and the character of those specific places has a strong effect on the nature of those economies. To say that these strong local effects are not real, and if they were, don’t matter, seems like an over simplification. The character of the individual location is critical. 

  • design. yes!

     It is troublesome that so many people have the old fashioned and misinformed view
    that the “creative class” is composed entirely of starving painters and
    street musicians who either create no jobs or just leach off the system
    (or their rich parents). Or now an odd expanded view that somehow the
    creative class comprises “creative” bankers who wear cool sneakers and
    listen to college radio. First off, those who have chosen to make their
    careers in the fine arts and music cannot be categorized or defined
    because they are a vast and diverse group. Second, even if you believe yourself to be a
    creative person, if your job is selling stock or serving ice cream, you
    do not qualify as the creative class because you are not contributing to
    the actual creative profession and creative output on a daily basis. You may go to an occasional museum and enjoy foreign films and Pinterest, but this is not enough to truly contribute to the creative economy. The main issue here is that people do not seem to be aware of the millions of
    designers and creatives working in the film, advertising, television,
    journalism, graphic design, interior design, sound engineering, set design,
    industrial design, web design, and experience design
    professions (to name just a few). Highly creative people working in
    truly creative professional jobs that contribute to the economy every
    day, who have a high earning potential, who drive innovation, and who
    improve lives through new technologies, entertainment, beauty through
    aesthetics, and through creating clarity, organization, education, and
    efficiency via their creative ideas, strong writing, and good design. Let’s not forget about this super
    important part of the business and professional world. Before the
    “creative” finance guy moves into the new cool neighborhood it was the film editor, the web designer and the copywriter who lived there first and made that neighborhood into the creative space that lures in all the money. The creative class
    comprises many people from many walks of life and all economic levels,
    but I think it is pandering to call a particularly creative banker part
    of the creative class. And it’s insulting and ignorant to assume that artists by definition are starving, unemployed, and not contributing real value to our economy.

    • Guest

      You’re saying the highest paid people in our society are the “creative” people???!!! Whoooa, I guess I have to have a whole lot more respect for lawyers, doctors, dentists, bankers, Wall Street brokers, people who inherit billions, people who win the lottery and the crooks who keep getting away with screwing the rest of us! never thought of them in that way.

      By the way, how many inventors do you know personally?

      • design. yes!

         Wow, you obviously didn’t even read what I wrote. I NEVER said that the highest paid people in society are creatives, how could you possibly glean that from my words? And don’t you realize that product designers, architects, fashion designers, etc. ARE inventors and innovators? So yeah, I know tons personally. 

        • Guest

           NO – an inventor comes up with new products (not just re-designs) that create hundreds, or thousands of “new” jobs and may even change society forever. Do you know any people who have changed society forever? I kind of doubt it, because there are fewer and fewer of these people – it’s part of the reason we have 8%+ unemployment. We have lots of “creativity” but where are the new jobs? Making money doesn’t require creating jobs anymore!

    • http://twitter.com/DesignReporter Aaron

      I’m glad you pointed all this out! I was thinking the exact same thing as I listened to this interview. What about all the designers, architects, musicians, actors, filmmakers, etc…? Collectively they all exert massive influence over each and everyone’s day around the world. From the shoes you are wearing, to your phone, to your car, to the TV show you watch at the end of the day; everything you interact with has been considered by some kind of actual creative person (and not some hipster-wannabe-banker). Where are they in this conversation?

  • Alan

    Twenty-nine years ago after a close study of the market, I started a business with a practice model that was unknown in this market.  (The details are not important to the point I am making.)  At the time I was told one of two things by people in the traditional business:  (1) No one is doing things like this.  (2) Others have tried something like this and failed.  Now I have clients whose interests I have served for ten, twenty and more years.  The old models still exist, but the model I “created” has become more common.  My business has long been profitable.  The traditional economics said, “No,” but what I would call “cultural economics” worked.  Notwithstanding Mr. Galbraith’s erudition, it is Mr. Florida who grasps the core significance of the creative cultural approach to economic development.

  • John Chaplin

    I don’t think that being part of the creative class and the career path you follow are so linked as people make them out to be.  Sure you can be a dancer or a painter, but if all you do is hack around with other people’s work, are you really being creative?  I really related to the point Florida made about how people in call centers, which would be by definition “un-creative” can exhibit creativity and help the business flourish. 

    I work for a Medical Device company and have a fairly routine job, however I have come up with creative ways to do things, and helped improve how different parts of the company interact with each other.  In my mind that is creativity and even though my main job is to answer a phone and process transactions, find better/more creative ways of doing it puts me in the creative class.

    This is more about mindset than it is about occupation.

  • Jsland1

    I’m really tired of the distinction Florida makes (and has built a career on) between creatives and non-creatives. As soon as a child is born in any spot on earth, creativity is the name of the day. There is no job or profession, there is no child care, or child play, there is no teaching, training, or research, that does not involve creativity as an integral part of its work. 90% sweat and 10% creativity is the old adage, and it applies to every skill. Of course there are certain people who approach their jobs with more creativity than others, but the last time I looked at a healthy downtown, creative workers covered everyone from plumbers to university profs to politicians. However, in addition to these, there are professions which focus on an art form or art discipline, as opposed to a science or trade. From my experience in music, theatre, and some visual arts, those of us who are professionals in the arts world use creativity to solve the problems of our artform as they arise in just the same way as any other person would in their work. That’s all. 
    Yes it’s true that when we artists move into a poor rundown neighbourhood-one that we can afford and that can house our studios and practice spaces-businesses are drawn to it that take their flash and feel from us and our work. This draw helps at first, and it makes for a more accepting, more varied, and lively neighbourhood, which may be the real value of the “arts class” when it lives together as a group. But often the money draws escalate and eventually, once again, we have to move away from riches and the static, non-creative quality of extreme wealth. My one experience of places where no one is creative or uses real creativity, is there, in the corporate world. The bottom line of perpetual profit making for shareholders and owners prohibits the freedom of mind which truly allows for everything, including profits, to be thrown up into the air, juggled, and reconfigured in a new solution, perfect for that event and time. Having lots of money is no measure of living creatively, having great art, a good neighbourhood, or good health. Profit at all costs prohibits creativity. The market measures nothing of value because it isn’t nature or human, from which both value and creativity comes.

    • Guest

      But power comes from money – not creativity (well, there may be some exceptions). Creative people are usually the powerless ones.

  • Carlo

    The Chinese and Indians must be loving this topic. The days where we can just mail it in, make money and be a world power are long over. I don’t think loafing is working well for most of Europe. Which country is carrying Europe? Germany. Which company has the strongest work ethic? You guessed it Germany.

    • Guest

      Yeah, Romney and his cronies really relied on a “strong work ethic” to make them rich!!!! Give me a break, that’s EXACTLY the kind of propaganda that Hitler used. Remember – “Work Sets You Free” (above the labor and concentration camps)?

      Keep working your butt off, my friend – won’t make a difference in who gets (and stays) rich in this country!

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  • Slipstream

    Florida is an interesting and engaging thinker, but I find his definition of creative to be a little broad.  Is selling fish a creative occupation now?  How about selling cement?  But I do find the idea of expanding the category of creative to include any sort of innovative or design activity to be intriguing.  The problem is where to draw the lines.  I guess I should try to read the book – that is the whole point, isn’t it?  lol

    Everybody loves creativity, but the arts are a small sector of the economy and decent employment therein is spotty and hard to get.  I speak from personal experience.  We may celebrate creativity and we should, but especially since 2008 arts funding has been cut, and I know a lot of cool creatives who have been struggling to pay the bills.  But hasn’t that always been the case?

  • Slipstream

    I liked Florida’s closing comments, and I think he is absolutely right – there is a growing gap between well-paid knowledge workers and blue collar and service workers.  Something should be done about it, no question.  

  • ThePlayChannel

    Being part of the creative class has its ups and downs. Take my story as a warning. I am an influential paid-for reviewer who got paid to review a video game called Word War III. After starting the game however, there was a loud POP
    from my laptop and the lights went out. “Oh well” I thought “here is
    someone who gets my dreaded ZERO star review”…

    It was probably the
    mulling of such vengeful thoughts that prevented me from hearing the
    growing subsonic buzz and seeing my neighbors taking pictures of the sky outside. Thusly, I had no forewarning when my ceiling vanished and I looked up to see a shiny metallic
    surface with multicolored lights racing around the rim… Anyway, being a
    manly man, I will not bother to share with you the indignities of the
    probe I suffered on the saucer.

    On the upside, it turned out these
    aliens are not here to conquer Earth. This was just a standard
    recruiting trip – thanks to their advanced technology they can zero
    on the perfect candidate right away without interviews. The job? Help
    them defeat a gang of slightly unbalanced robots that infest one of
    their better vacation planets. The pay? They did not give me the chance
    to ask this question before I found myself airdropped on the contested planet with a small bag of supplies and a standard-edition Webster
    dictionary. But the job has its rewards, since now it is my turn to kick
    bu-t-t. Recently my servants managed to contrive a charged particle
    projector that tunes into the internet back to Earth, so that I can post
    my ZERO star review and warn the President. Oh wait, that is not the White House site ?!? Back to Word War III.

  • http://twitter.com/HeatherLynn117 Heather Dawn Lynn

    The two best points of this article were about how poorly American workers are treated and the citing of the study about German opera houses. This points to a fairly simple conclusion: people who are doing well participate in the arts, and being in the arts allows you to stimulate more neurological pathways. Even if you’re not in art as a career, involving oneself in art helps keep the brain active. If art is there, good ideas can follow, but keeping art in communities requires a priority on worker and community health. If you don’t value worker welfare, you don’t value boosting people’s creative ability.

  • Perspectiveopinion

    You would be surprised how many retail and service workers have a bachelor’s degree or Master’s in the liberal arts. Do these speakers realize that in some cases and with some majors education does not pay. They should cruise on over to the Chronicle of Higher Education and see how PHD’s are being paid less then $20,000 for full time work by colleges and universities and qualify for food stamps and medical care.

    Colleges and universities are following the practices of big business and out sourcing the education to adjunct faculty rather than higher full time salaried professor for whom they have to pay benefits. They sell you the dream of higher education as a way to a better life even as they rip off those who are highly educated.

    When you choose a college find out what percentage of faculty are adjunct. It is eye opening and shocking to realize that often time less than half of the professors are full time faculty with benefits. We wonder why the meaning of a college education has gone down and why some graduates with a bachelor’s degree can’t write. Adjunct faculty are not being paid a living wage and they have to cobble together several different jobs at different schools to try and make ends meet so they don’t have the time to work one on one with students as professors did in the past when full time permanent faculty held those positions.

Sep 15, 2014
In this Thursday, Sep. 11, 2014 photo, Middle Eastern leaders stand together during a family photo with of the Gulf Cooperation Council and regional partners at King Abdulaziz International Airport’s Royal Terminal in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. (AP/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

President Obama says he will build a coalition of partners in the Middle East to combat ISIS. We’ll do a reality check on who’s really stepping up for what.

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This Monday, Sept. 27, 2010 file photo shows hikers on the South Kaibab Trail in Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz. (AP/Carson Walker)

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In this May 23, 2014, file photo, Janay Rice, left, looks on as her husband, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, speaks to the media during a news conference in Owings Mills, Md. (AP/Patrick Semansky)

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Sep 12, 2014
President Barack Obama meets with Congressional leaders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, to discuss options for combating the Islamic State. (AP/Evan Vucci)

The President’s ISIS strategy. The Ray Rice video. Congress is back. Apple’s new watch. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

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