Creative economy grows despite large population growth of creative people

Orono, Maine -- New economic data from the University of Maine give hope to cities across the country trying to gain a foothold in the creative economy.

Growth in creative economy jobs expanded rapidly in some parts of the country between 1999 and 2003 despite modest regional growth in the population of creative individuals during the 1990s. On the other hand, some cities that experienced a large growth of creative people over that decade saw some of the slowest rates of growth in actual jobs in the creative economy between 1999 and 2003.

This contradicts conventional wisdom that suggests companies employing creative workers follow the migration of creative talent, says Todd Gabe, associate professor of Resource Economics and Policy at UMaine. "These data show that cities don't need a strong initial presence in the creative economy to have job growth in later periods," says Gabe.

Creative economy growth in Maine's three largest cities also fits that pattern. Portland ranked 59th nationally in terms of the growth of creative talent during the 1990s, but fell to 136th in job growth between 1999 and 2003. On the other hand, Bangor and Lewiston-Auburn fared very well in job growth (30th and 26th nationally) over these four years following a decade when they ranked near the bottom (174th and 118th nationally) in terms of the attraction of creative talent.

The "creative economy" has received much attention recently, as U.S. workers see jobs in traditional industries dry up and other jobs move overseas. The concept, popularized by economist Richard Florida, suggests that America's workforce advantage lies in our ability to solve problems, forge new frontiers, and quickly adjust to changing economic forces. Creative occupations include engineers, educators and scientists as well as those involved in the creative arts, entertainment and professions such as architecture.

Florida's data show that peop

Contact: Todd Gabe
University of Maine

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