Much has been written about the role of the creative economy as a key indicator of economic health. As Visual Capitalist's Nick Routley writes, the “rise of the creative class” and “creative clusters” are concepts that inform the larger conversation on cities as the economic drivers of regions. As a result, everyone from academics to governments are increasingly looking for ways to measure the scope and size of the creative economy.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the creative economy accounts for 4.2% of the GDP and is valued at $704 billion. It’s also a segment of the economy that’s still growing. For example, art director and graphic design jobs are growing across the country at rates of 9% and 13%, respectively.
While there is no consensus on where to draw the line on what jobs or sectors are “creative”, we do know that cities are the primary places where measurable creative activities take place.
Today’s infographic from Homes.com measures the number of creative jobs, creative schools, performing arts companies, and motion picture and video companies, to create the Creative City Index. While not comprehensive, it is an interesting snapshot of the creative economy of the country.
Perhaps surprisingly to some, St. Louis ranked highly in multiple categories, including education, with a high number of creative schools per capita. St. Louis also has a healthy motion picture and video editing sector.
As housing in larger cities continues to rise out of reach for many artists and creative professionals, smaller creative hubs like St. Louis and Minneapolis could benefit from an influx of people seeking a more affordable lifestyle.
New York ranked as not only America’s top creative city, but the world’s top creative hub according to a report by UNESCO and EY. As the chart below demonstrates, the creative sector is the fastest-growing segment of NYC’s economy, outpacing many traditional economic drivers.
Not surprisingly, New York City dominates in specific creative categories. For example, 28% of the nation’s fashion designers reside in the five boroughs.
As it turns out, creative economies in larger cities benefit immensely from specialization. In the visualization below, orange dots represent creative jobs in sectors more unique to that metro area. The yellow dots represent more common creative jobs. Essentially, Boston’s creative jobs are tied to industries that are unique to that region, while a city like Las Vegas (which ranked low in the index) offers creative jobs that are less specialized.
The pathway to a robust creative economy requires creative jobs to grow alongside other specialized non-creative industries. This is a major reason cities with a strong technology industry presence also tended to rank well on the Creative City Index.