Creative class fared better in economic crisis than working and service classes

Richard Florida discusses how the creative class weathered the economic crisis better than blue-collar workers:

The crisis hit hardest at blue-collar workers, while creative class workers and metros with higher shares of creative class jobs fared considerably better. The unemployment rate for creative class workers, which was 1.9 percent in 2006 before the crisis, increased to just 4.1 percent in the years following the recession’s official end — an increase of 2.2 percentage points. The unemployment rate for workers in blue-collar jobs increased from from 6.5 percent before the onset of crisis to 14.6 percent at its end, more than three times higher than that for creative class workers and a jump of more than 8 percentage points. The unemployment rate for workers in routine service jobs increased from 5 percent to 9.3 percent at its end, more than double that for creative class workers a 4.3 percent jump…

Even after controlling for all those things, the analysis found that having a creative class job dramatically reduced a person’s chance of being unemployed over the course of the crisis. All others things being equal, we found that having a creative class occupation reduced an individual’s probability of being unemployed by 2.0 percentage points between 2006 and 2011. Having a creative class job had a bigger effect on the probability of being unemployed than holding a college diploma and about the same effect as having an advanced degree…

The study also found that while unemployment rates were lower in metros with higher shares of creative class jobs, the biggest benefit for creative class workers came in regions with lower shares of creative class jobs. The impact of having a creative occupation on the likelihood of being unemployed, the study found, was slightly stronger in metropolitan areas with lower shares of creative workers…

These results, along with our findings related to the other major occupational groups, are indicative of a structural change taking place in the U.S. economy. This shift is characterized by high — and growing — unemployment in Working Class occupations, whereas the relative position of creative workers improved in the years following the recession.

These final sentences are key: the economic crisis exposed some of the larger structural issues in the American and global economy. The creative class, those with education, social status, and access to the white-collar and high-tech jobs often found in certain metropolitan areas that are producing a lot of wealth, did better in the economic crises. It didn’t mean that no creative class jobs were lost but relatively fewer jobs were lost. On the other hand, more working-class jobs were lost. On top of this, the working and service class didn’t have the same resources to weather the economic storm. When the value of investments, such as housing values and retirement plans, shrunk and jobs dried up, there wasn’t much to fall back on.

This situation is not likely to be fixed quickly. For example, it takes time to get education and only roughly a third of American adults have a college degree. It also takes time for a broader economy to shift away from a service and consumption oriented economy to one that creates more high-paying, information-age jobs.

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