Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Sep 18th 2009 at 10:00am UTC

Unemployment and the Creative Class

The U.S. unemployment rate is 9.7 percent, the highest in some time, but the burden of unemployment is  spread unevenly across the economy. Production workers face a 15.1 percent unemployment rate, while unemployment among construction and extraction workers stands at 17 percent. But unemployment among management and professional workers is only 5.4 percent. Researchers at the Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) previously identified long-run differences in the unemployment rates faced by industrial workers and knowledge, professional, and creative workers.

New analysis by the MPI team tracks unemployment among management and professional – or creative class – workers from 1983 to the present. While unemployment among creative class workers as a whole is far below the rate faced by production and construction workers, there is considerable variation in unemployment among the various occupations, professions, and job types that make up the creative class.

Creative workers in arts, design, and entertainment occupations consistently face higher unemployment rates and significant spikes during recessions. In contrast to other creative fields, the unemployment rate for arts, design, and entertainment workers sometimes runs higher than the overall unemployment rate.

Computer, sciences, and engineering professionals experience lower rates of unemployment than arts, design, and entertainment workers. But the lowest rates of unemployment and the most stable employment are found in meds and eds occupations – health and education – where unemployment stays consistently low, even during downturns.

The full analysis is here.

4 Responses to “Unemployment and the Creative Class”

  1. Mary Adams Says:

    How many members of the creative class are self-employed and therefore do not get counted in these statistics? I have heard estimates of the “contract” workforce being as high as 25% of the total workforce. Not all these are what you would call creative class. Any data along these lines?

  2. Creative Music Teachers Resources: Effective Ways to Motivation | Says:

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  3. Ralf Lippold Says:


    Your question opens a new perspective on the numbers.

    What is the underlying intention of collecting and showing these numbers from official side?

    Same thing in Germany, where about a week before the forthcoming election unemployment figures are quite low. Yet everybody is feeling that the system is crippling and the long lasting employment programs will end soon after the election and companies will close down as soon as the money infusion is lowering.

    There is not much effort (from the official state institutions) in exploring new forms of work, such as entrepreneurship in a broader sense (see CoWorking as a facilitating foundation or movement) and the former employeed workforce is not yet open-minded to explore new territories of work (with certainly less stable situations).

    I wonder whether there is a similar feeling in the U.S.?

    Best regards from beautiful Dresden (have you visited that innovative & creative city in Eastern Germany yet – you should:-))


  4. Ian Says:

    Mary: this analysis does include the self-employed. The data is from the Current Population Survey, a monthly survey of about 60,000 households. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:

    “Most of the employed are either wage and salary workers (paid employees) or self-employed (working in their own business, profession, or farm).”

    More info here.