Creative Work is the Answer to Inequality
How do we get more and more people involved in creative class work using their minds, using their creativity?
Richard Florida is author of the global best-seller "The Rise of the Creative Class." His latest books are the "The Great Reset," and "The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited," a revised and expanded tenth anniversary edition of his classic work.
He is also the author of "The Flight of the Creative Class" and "Cities and the Creative Class." His previous books, especially "The Breakthrough Illusion" and "Beyond Mass Production," paved the way for his provocative looks at how creativity is revolutionizing the global economy.
Florida is a regular correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly and a regular columnist for The Globe and Mail. He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Economist, and The Harvard Business Review. He has been featured as an expert on MSNBC, CNN, BBC, NPR and CBS, to name just a few.
The main message of my work over the past decade or more has been a fairly basic message and that’s that every single human being is creative. But as with anything one has to put statistical parameters around what that means, and what I’ve found, is that our society is really divided into people who are principally paid to use their creativity at work and those who maybe are quite creative but they’re principally paid to use their physical labor or they’re involved in low-skill service work.
In any event, there are about 40 million Americans who are privileged to be members of what I call the creative class. There are people in science and technology. There are people who are entrepreneurs who work in research and development. They are architects, they’re designers; they work in arts and culture, the entertainment and media. They are the kind of classic knowledge-based professionals that great management thinkers like Peter Drucker taught us about, people in business and management and healthcare and law and education.
Right now in the United States this represents about 35 percent of the workforce. But what’s interesting is through the terrible economic crisis we’ve had, while rates of unemployment for manufacturing workers went over 15 percent, and in some cases over 20 percent, for people who do low-skill service work like food preparation or personal care, that kind of work went well over ten percent, the rate of unemployment among the creative class never went higher than five percent.
We’re on track to generate another seven million of these jobs over the course of the next decade. And one thing that’s really interesting, when I first looked at the creative class and the original version of the book in 2002, in the most advanced regions of the country, places like San Francisco, or Silicon Valley or Boulder, Colorado, or Austin, Texas, or Seattle or Boston, Raleigh-Durham, Washington, D.C. they might have represented 35 or 40 percent.
Now in some of these regions it’s nearly half of the workforce is already in this creative class and we have been able to look around the world and I added a whole new chapter on that in this book.
In some countries like Singapore or in Sweden or in Norway or in Denmark, the Netherlands, already more than 45 to 50 percent of the workforce is doing this kind of creative class work. So in my view, it’s the growth force of our time and the real challenge ahead of us is how do we get more and more people involved in creative class work using their minds, using their creativity, because it will afford them a better salary, it will improve productivity and it will hopefully begin to address the terrible inequality we face in our country.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock
NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller is coming back to Big Think to answer YOUR questions! Here's all you need to know to submit your science-related inquiries.
Big Think's amazing audience has responded so well to our videos from NASA astronomer and Assistant Director for Science Communication Michelle Thaller that we couldn't wait to bring her back for more!
And this time, she's ready to tackle any questions you're willing to throw at her, like, "How big is the Universe?", "Am I really made of stars?" or, "How long until Elon Musk starts a colony on Mars?"
All you have to do is submit your questions to the form below, and we'll use them for an upcoming Q+A session with Michelle. You know what to do, Big Thinkers!
Build up, tear down—new technology stirs up a cycle of progress and cynicism we've seen all throughout history.
- "Every time that there's a new technology, particularly around media, there's a set of outcries around how that media is corrupting culture or how it's destroying certain aspects of our life," says entrepreneur and author Elad Gil.
- In some cases there are real concerns, but taking a historical view can quell unnecessary panic. Progress and cynicism work in a cyclical fashion. New tech is unveiled, the media builds it up, then the media tears it down in a wave of backlash.
- Today we worry about kids and smartphones; 80 years ago we worried about kids and the radio; same cynicism, different day.
- Technology lifts the lid on human potential and quality of life, says Gil. We should be duly cautious, but optimism is more valuable (and arguably more rational) than pessimism.
Calling all big thinkers!
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.